Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 12 2013

Calling all lovers of books!

I don’t need to read all this, Caroline, just let me sign up to help!!

Students love books, too.

Two years ago, this blog helped me supply my classroom library with favorite titles including the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Percy Jackson series, a whole bin of over 50 Babysitters Club books, Animorphs, Bluford series, Captain Underpants, Narnia series, and hundreds of other books that my students have fallen in love with.

This year my students regularly, candidly thank me for providing my own library with books they love. They ask for recommendations, are thoughtful and so excited when choosing a new book, and read independently for at least 10 minutes daily in my class (though they regularly beg for more time). Just this morning one of my struggling reader’s “Reader Letter” to me stated that he “never used to like reading, but now I read a lot and really like reading.”

Okay, great job Caroline, work’s done.

Wrong. I still need you.

Unfortunately not all students have access to books at home. This is a serious problem, when we look at the research:

  • Children growing up in homes with many books get 3 years more schooling than children from bookless homes, independent of their parents’ education, occupation and class.
  • The only behavior measure that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in the home.
  • 61 percent of low-income families have no books at all in their homes for their children.
  • It is estimated that the cost of illiteracy to business and the taxpayer is $20 billion per year.

Because I only teach 50 students this year for 2.5 hours a day, I have the opportunity to genuinely build their access to books not only at school, but at home. Additionally, the vast majority of my students have siblings, with some of them having 10 or more brothers and sisters. Building my student’s home library also gives other students access to books. Here’s how you can help me accomplish the task of building a library in every student’s home.

Have you ever heard of Accelerated Reader? In short, it’s an incentive-based reading system that assigns reading levels and point values to books. When students read a text, they go online and take a test assessing their comprehension. While many criticize that this takes the love out of reading, I argue that for my students in my classroom this system is working incredibly well (when partnered with many great conversations about why reading is important and why points aren’t everything).

I want to use this system to award students with not just points, but with real books to take home.

Currently, I have students that have earned from 0 to 51 points (the next highest is at 21 points), with one class average currently at 4 points. I propose that, with sponsors like you, each student earns $.50 to use on Scholastic Reading Clubs for each they point they earn reading. At most, this could potentially cost $100 for one student. I think on average, to be very generous, it will cost $20 a student for the entire year. Additionally, ordering books via Scholastic gives me (and therefore students) huge benefits, including enormous “point” values which can contribute to the cost and get some students free books.

To participate, I need you to commit to helping me get books into my students’ hands. Shipping is free when ordered through Scholastic, and you can order straight through the website via a parent code. The books get delivered straight to my classroom, and you get the beautiful feeling of sharing literacy with a rural Arkansan child.

Please share that you’ll help in my classroom. Even committing to buying one five dollar book puts me closer to helping all my students. Complete this short google form if you are able to help, and I’ll email you more information.

Thanks, I love you, my students love you, and I can’t wait to hear from you.

“People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.” – Malcom X


2 Responses

  1. Shannon

    Just out of curiosity, since I’m a huge flea market- thrift store kind of girl- do teachers have any interest in used books? You mentioned the Babysitters Club. I always see so many of those for sale, usually no more than .50 each. I’d buy them and ship them for free if anyone is interested.

    • YES. YES we have tons of interest. Just sent you an email!

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