Amanda Cooper ’18 was recently recognized as a New Jersey Monthly Garden State Seeds of Hope Award honoree, one of only five individuals in the state. The award recognizes New Jersey volunteers who are committed to bettering their communities. In the NJ Monthly feature article (photo source), Amanda was highlighted for her success as the founder of the Girls Love to Read Program at Moorestown Library.

Amanda has always been an avid reader, and she fondly recalls her 10th birthday gift from her grandmother: a copy of The Secret Garden. Still a favorite book, that birthday gift sparked her initial passion for reading. Amanda then wanted to find other friends who loved books as much as she did, to start her own book club, but she found other girls her age saying “I don’t like to read” or “Kids don’t have book clubs.”

At that time,  Amanda reached out to Jennifer Dunne, the Moorestown Library Children’s Services Librarian, to develop a partnership with the library. Within a year, Amanda was able to have the book club she always wanted, the Girls Love to Read program.

Designed for young girls in grades 1-3, Girls Love to Read is structured to promote the fun of reading books.

“We meet about four to five times a year at the Moorestown Library,” said Amanda. “I choose books with feminine lead characters and sometimes mystery solver books, like Cam Jansen. We’ll read a book or some chapters; talk about the beginning, middle, and end; plot devices; the setting; and other general book vocabulary.”

For the past five years, Amanda has not only managed the program, but it has become so popular that she has to cap the quarterly program enrollment to 15 girls.

When asked what her favorite books are now, Amanda struggled to narrow down her list.

“I still love The Secret Garden and the Nancy Drew series,” she said. “But also To Kill a Mockingbird, which was the book that inspired my mom to go to law school.”

Aside from her hours at the library, Amanda dedicates a lot of time to her other pursuits. She is a member of the MFS Varsity Field Hockey team and she also plays for the Princeton Field Hockey Club. She is on the MFS Girls’ Swimming team and participates in Model UN. She is a member of the Philadelphia Girls Choir and is on the Girls Advisory Council at the Alice Paul Institute in Mount Laurel. In a couple years, Amanda hopes to study International Business, International Relations, and Spanish in college.