Increasing Book Access Across the State of Tennessee

Brittany Sullivan  //  Jun 29, 2021

Increasing Book Access Across the State of Tennessee

Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) has long had an outsized impact in making books accessible to students across the state of Tennessee. When schools closed during the pandemic last year, the foundation—which equips Tennessee's children with books and innovative literacy tools to encourage lifelong learning for a brighter future—teamed up with Scholastic and the Tennessee Department of Education to launch a book delivery program to ensure that 2,100 rising 1st through 3rd grade students and their respective teachers in Giles, Decatur, and Claiborne County Schools received summer take-home book packs at no cost to families or school districts.

Since then, GELF and the Education Solutions team at Scholastic have worked tirelessly over the last year to distribute 170,100 total take-home book packs—that’s 1,101,000 books—to teachers and students throughout Tennessee! This past month, GELF hosted two kick-off events to celebrate its now second annual summer K–3 book delivery program. The latest distribution included 500,000 books for teachers and students, including every rising 1st grader in Tennessee. 

“The value of summer reading carries extra weight this summer, as time spent in classrooms was inconsistent for so many children over the last year,” said James Pond, president of GELF. “Our mission to strengthen literacy in Tennessee has never been more meaningful, and collaborative partnerships aligned with our shared vision have never been more valuable.”

This summer, the K–3 Book Delivery program, underwritten by State of Tennessee, will equip thousands of Tennessee children with books and innovative literacy tools that encourage lifelong learning for a brighter future. “It’s more than books. It’s the future of Tennessee,” Pond said.

In addition to building literacy skills, books can be a powerful source of social-emotional support to help kids find a sense of belonging and comfort during a challenging time, or spark curiosity through new adventures and characters. “We are honored to continue this important work with GELF to break down barriers to book access for children across the state of Tennessee, and help ensure that joyful reading continues throughout the summer,” Chris Hedrick, Senior Vice President of Sales, Scholastic Education Solutions said.

Findings from the Scholastic Teacher & Principal School Report show that 96% of educators agree that providing year-round access to books at home is important to enhancing student achievement. As one educator said of the book delivery program, “This is one of the most beneficial initiatives for increasing literacy that I have witnessed as an educator.”   


Photos: Courtesy of Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation