The Bahamas has a unique opportunity to win $25,000 in children’s books thanks to JetBlue’s Soar with Reading programme.
The project, now in its eighth year, is currently holding the first round of competition which is being held online until July 20.
The Bahamas is currently in second place behind the Dominican Republic in the Latin American and Caribbean Region category.
The Soar with Reading contest was designed to help children enhance their literacy, encouraging them to take flight through reading, while also getting books into the hands of children who need them the most.
Once the first round of voting is completed, the top four cities in each region will move on to the final round of voting which will go until August 31 this year.
One winner will be selected from each region and will win both $25,000 in children’s books and a reading room makeover for a local library or a community organization.
Bahamians are including their vote with hopes of winning the grand prize from the international airline.
In an exclusive online interview with Eyewitness News, JetBlue’s Manager of Corporate Communications Tamara Young explained why the contest was created.
“Everyone can vote at SoarwithReading.com for their favorite JetBlue City to win $25,000 in children’s books, plus a reading room makeover for a local community organization decorated by celebrity designer Tyler Wisler,” Young confirmed.
According to Young, JetBlue partnered with Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for this year’s Soar with Reading program because of their shared love for reading and commitment to book access.
“Since it began in 2011, JetBlue’s Soar with Reading program has donated nearly $3 million worth of books to children in areas of need,” she said.
“JetBlue presently has vending machines which dispense free books in San Franciso and Oakland, California (this summer) but, they wanted to make sure that people outside of the Bay area could get involved, so this summer, we’re inviting the public to #BookWithUs and take their city’s reading adventures to new heights.”
When asked by Eyewitness News why the airline chose to have a global contest as opposed to limiting it to New York, Young added that Soar with Reading helps solve for ‘book deserts,’- areas offering limited or no access to purchase age-appropriate books.
In book deserts, access to age-appropriate reading material is very limited and JetBlue’s goal is to provide books to help children build their personal libraries.
“The program provides age-appropriate books to children who need them most especially during the summer months when reading tends to decline,” the airline’s corporate communications manager pointed out.
According to Young, Soar with Reading provides greater access to books that children can keep and brings new communities to the library for the first time.
She also told Eyewitness News that once a winning city is selected, they will work with local organizations and the community to determine where the greatest need is to ensure the grant is best be utilized.