According to the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library, children in the Greater Phoenix community are struggling to read proficiently. In response, the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library have launched a new program that donates books to local schools and brings public library resources directly to the classroom.
The new BookStorm program offers area school teachers the opportunity to apply for donated children’s books for their classrooms as well as a visit from a Phoenix Public Library literacy specialist. In partnership with Better World Books and Phoenix Public Library, the program offers up to 1,000 donated books per classroom or school library and brings library cards and other public library resources directly to students. Educators can apply once per school year. Upon its official launch, the BookStorm program received over 200 applications in only two days.
According to ReadOn Arizona, only 79% of Maricopa County’s third graders could read proficiently in 2014. That leaves nearly a quarter of the county’s students struggling to keep up in an increasingly literate society. Worse, briefs published by First Things First suggest that literacy development from birth to age 8 years is a strong indicator of future performance, both in school and in society.
According to Friends Executive Director Jason Peterson, the new program fills an obvious need in the community. “We’ve always been happy to donate books to schools as they
were available; but thanks to this partnership with Better World Books, we’re able to significantly increase the program’s impact. Including an outreach visit from staff at Phoenix Public Library sets kids up with library cards which is essential to developing lifelong learning skills.”
For Diane Maier, Director, Global Marketing and Sales Support at Better World Books, the BookStorm program was a natural fit. “The partnership between Better World Books and the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library highlights our shared goal of supporting literacy through book donations and program funding. We are happy to play a role in assisting the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library donate books to where they are needed most in the local community.” Maier also hopes the program will inspire other libraries to do something similar. “We encourage more of our library clients to do the same and take advantage of our book donation program–this is a great way for a client to benefit from our sizable processing capacity and helps fulfill our duty to give every book we see a proper home.”
Katie Lewis, a teacher at Richard E. Miller in the Washington Elementary School District, could hardly hide her emotion at the prospect of receiving 1,000 books to give away at their schoolwide Literacy Night last month. “When you said a thousand, I cried … the kids that can’t afford anything, this is like a gold mine for them.”
Details and an application can be found at plfriends.org/bookstorm.