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Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) and Scholastic provide 1.2 million books to Tennessee students

Langley Leverett  //  Jun 9, 2023

Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) and Scholastic provide 1.2 million books to Tennessee students

The K-3 Home Library program, a resource developed by Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) in collaboration with Scholastic, was developed in 2020 and delivers the books and resources students and educators need to make summer reading successful. It has quickly become the largest distribution effort of its kind in the state of Tennessee, and in the past year, reading proficiency among third graders has increased by 16%, from 32% in June 2022 to 40% in June 2023. 

Now in its third year, the program is expanding to:

  • Deliver 1.2 million books to more than 200,000 students, teachers, librarians and media specialists statewide at no cost to families, individual schools, or school districts. 

  • Now include all rising 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students enrolled in a public school in Tennessee.

  • Distribute more than 250,000 additional books to roughly 40,000 more students and teachers than in 2022, bringing the total of books delivered in the program’s four-year history to 3.1 million and total elementary school students and teachers served to more than 509,000.

The expansion of this program will continue to increase access to books for students. Currently, only 40% of Tennessee 3rd graders read proficiently and as summer approaches we book access will diminish significantly. Research from the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report™: 8th Edition (released last month) shows that 41% of kids get most of the books they read for fun over the year from their school, making the expansion of this summer initiative more critical than ever.To kick off the K-3 Home Library program and GELF’s “Stop the Slide!” summer reading campaign, GELF and Scholastic, held a special read-aloud and book distribution event at Norman Binkley Elementary in Nashville earlier this week. 

During the event, James Pond, President, GELF, and Rose Else-Mitchell, President, Scholastic Education Solutions, were joined by children’s book author Lester Laminack and local mascots to distribute books to students and teachers in attendance. Lester Laminack performed a special read-aloud of his book, Three Hens and a Peacock, that students will receive through the program. Speakers shared more on the importance of early literacy and the important work to increase access to books for students: 

James Pond, president of GELF: “If we don’t get reading right, everything else can go wrong. Our goal is to promote a culture of reading in Tennessee by meeting students where they are with the books and resources they need to become lifelong learners. We are honored to work together with school districts, charter schools, and the Tennessee General Assembly to build home libraries statewide, and we hope other states look to us as a leader in collaborative early literacy efforts. It’s more than books. It’s the future of Tennessee.”

Rose Else-Mitchell, President, Scholastic Education Solutions: “Scholastic is proud to continue to partner with Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation to increase access to books and reading resources for even more students across the state of Tennessee. This collaboration reflects our shared mission in enriching the lives of all children with the power and joy of reading. We want all students to be equipped through the school year as well as the summer with stories that engage their hearts and minds and knowledge that opens the world to them.”

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