For this episode of Pull Up A Chair, we celebrate the power of reading and the magic that happens from delving into a book; a book that expands your mind and your world.

In 2004, the women’s department of The Associated wanted to address their dedication to tikkun olam, to repair the world. They chose to do it by reaching out, beyond the Jewish community, with some of their programs. At a brainstorming session, they came up with the idea for Bookworms — reading to kindergarten and first grade students to cultivate a love for reading and improving reading skills. Someone in the room knew the principal at Federal Hill Preparatory Elementary School, and the plans grew from there.

Bookworms, which is now run by The Associated’s Jewish Volunteer Connection, brings volunteers together each month to read to elementary school students.

Volunteers bring a new or gently-used book to read and donate to the classroom to be ready by others. The Bookworms program currently helps several elementary schools in the Baltimore area, sharing the love of reading in both Baltimore City and County public schools.

Bookworms has now donated thousands of books to the nine schools it supports.

We sat down with the first director of Bookworms, a retired teacher from Federal Hill Preparatory School as well as a current teacher and talked about the ABC’s of impacting the community through books and reading.

Listen to the Pull Up A Chair episode here.

The Associated Contributors are writers from The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.