Literacy Leader

Christine Alexander (The Gazette)Before her death in June at age 66, Christine Alexander started a book bank in New Haven, Connecticut, and created a network of volunteer tutors aimed at helping home-schooled children develop their reading skills.

Alexander, who trained as a pediatric nurse, volunteered as executive director of the tutoring program called New Haven Reads.

In the news obituary that appeared in the New Haven Register, Mary E. O’Leary wrote:

An official tutoring program that started with nine youngsters grew to one where 450 students, in kindergarten through 12th grade, are tutored one-on-one weekly by 350 volunteers at three sites in New Haven. The distribution network has moved more than 725,000 free books since 2004, and students are encouraged to take home five books each time they visit.

Alexander was one of two recipients of the national United Way of America Volunteer of the Year Award in 2008. That same year, she and her husband, Bruce, received the Greater New Haven United Way DeToqueville Award for their contributions to the community.

“At the most basic level, the despair of a child who cannot read always focused her work,” O’Leary wrote, backing it up with Alexander’s her own words from a 2009 interview:

“When you get a child in here who bursts into tears because they have no idea how to do their homework, it just breaks your heart and it shouldn’t be happening.”

Read more and share your condolences in Christine Alexander’s Guest Book.

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This post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer who lives in Northeast Ohio. She is director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers.