Blue Manatee Starts Peer Mentor Reading Program with Oyler, Rothenberg

December 5, 2019

By Alexa Helwig, WKRC

An Oakley bookstore will pilot a peer mentor program with two Cincinnati Public Schools.

Blue Manatee Bookstore won a grant through Penguin Random House to support the "Near Peer" program. Author and illustrator Erin Barker said it is a project that will not let poverty get in the way of a good education.

"We are super excited to be able to put books in the hands of kids who may not have access to good books. That bond between the older and younger child is huge," said Barker.

The iconic bookstore reopened last April as a non-profit organization with a new mission.

On Tuesday, students from the Oyler School and Rothenberg Preparatory Academy filled the bookstore. Each one wearing "I'm a mentor" or "I'm a reader" t-shirts.

Miami University Urban Cohort Director Tammy Schwartz said each student has a purpose for this new project.

"These kids have strengths. Shame on us if we don't utilize those strengths and build them up as leaders in their own communities. We should be doing that across the entire city in Cincinnati," said Schwartz.

The "Near Peer" program builds a relationship between students and stories.

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