Book Up Summer Program Encourages Little Readers
It was the last day of school at Brewster Elementary. The wind was blowing in every direction as kids laughed and played on the playground. Inside the school, the halls were empty. I was headed to the library to take some photos of the Page Ahead Children’s Literacy Program “Book Up Summer”, which received a $5,000 grant from the Community Foundation of NCW to provide free books for Okanogan County elementary students over the summer.
First graders lined up to receive their books, holding a strip of stickers that each read “This Book Belongs To” and their names. A young boy stood mouth agape, flipping through each book with excitement, haphazardly slapping his stickers on the inside cover.
He ran his hands along the glossy cover of his brand-new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles book, in awe or disbelief. He exclaimed “YAY!” when he discovered the Lego Star Wars book, and he looked at me with a puzzled face when he came upon a book with monsters he’d never seen before.
My heart grew a little bit each time he came across a new book – one that was all his, one he got to put his name inside, one he got to put on his own bedroom shelf, one he could read whenever he wanted.
This is exactly why Page Ahead came to the Community Foundation of NCW to help fund their program in our region. An excerpt from their grant application shows evidence of why access to books over the summer matters:
“One study found that economically disadvantaged children fell about 2.5 months behind more than advantaged students during the summer months between kindergarten and first grade. When this trend is multiplied throughout 12 years of school, students from low-income families graduate from high school several years behind – if they graduate at all.”
While it crossed my mind that he may or may not have someone at home who was able to read it to him, it was encouraging to know that no matter what, he had something to read. And that’s where it all begins – get the book in their hands, and they’ve made the first step to literacy.
The boy came running over to me and said “Miss!” and showed me his drawing. With a little mist in my eyes, I remembered what I came to do and snapped a shot.
I can’t help but imagine he’s home right now, looking at his Lego Star Wars book, dreaming of being a Jedi. Maybe he’s sounding out the words he can’t yet read, or maybe he’s flipping through the pages and just looking at the pictures in books that are all his own.
Either way, he’s beginning a journey of lifelong reading that will take him anywhere he wants to go.
To ensure programs like these continue, consider a donation to the For Good, For Ever fund that supports grants for schools and nonprofits throughout North Central Washington.