Throughout the year, Orange County Library System, City of Orlando’s Mayor Matching Grant recipient, proudly partners with Mayor Buddy’s Book Club, a City of Orlando youth program, to host monthly book clubs at local neighborhood centers across Orlando. These book clubs connect young readers with literacy coaches and community helpers, such as firefighters, police officers and public officials who participate in lively book discussions and trivia.
The book club showcases different award-winning authors from the current or past Sunshine State Young Reader Award lists, and it provides free copies of the book club title for attendees to keep. At the completion of each book, readers celebrate with an End of Book Party which includes a live Q&A session with the author.
Even in these rapidly changing times, Mayor Buddy’s Book Club and Orange County Library System have worked together to ensure its continuing success. At the start of the pandemic, they quickly transitioned all book clubs and author events into a virtual format, allowing the book club to meet readers wherever they may be.
In 2011, the City of Orlando was awarded the Cities of Service Leadership Grant, funded jointly by the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, to start Mayor Buddy Dyer’s Cities of Service: Orlando Cares. This initiative addressed two key community challenges: youth literacy and increasing community safety. Mayor Buddy’s Book Club aimed to improve youth literacy by connecting young readers with community volunteers and to facilitate reading sessions. Since its launch, Mayor Buddy’s Book Club has helped bring literacy to life for second to sixth grade readers by providing them with opportunities to connect with award-winning authors and like-minded peers.