According to a recent study from the Tennessee Department of Education, only 32 percent of third graders read proficiently, a 16 percent decline from 2019. To help encourage summer reading among the students of Tennessee, Scholastic and the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) have collaborated to bring 162,000 kids across all 95 counties their very own books, at no cost, to take home and enjoy!
Through the K-3 Home Library program, every rising first and second grader enrolled in Tennessee public school will receive six high quality, age-appropriate texts. The titles are handpicked by GELF’s Educator Advisory Council (EAC), a group of 21 diverse Tennessee educators that serve GELF’s K-3 initiatives. The EAC also created activity-based resources that are being provided to teachers and parents to help them incorporate the program’s books in the classroom and in the home.
To get students excited about summer reading, GELF and Scholastic hosted a kick-off event on June 8th—watch the recorded live stream, here!
Summer learning loss is a near-hearted issue to both Scholastic and the GELF. As kids and families continue to navigate a series of complex and challenging realities, it is the hope that this program can ring in some joy and adventure into the summer months. Chris Hedrick, Senior Vice President of Sales, Scholastic Education Solutions, relates owning one’sown books can boost social-emotional learning:
“Books can be a source of comfort, learning and joy, and Scholastic is committed to ensuring that every child has the opportunity to experience all the benefits of reading, including a sense of ownership by having their own home library. We are so proud to be part of this statewide effort in Tennessee and to execute a shared mission in advancing children’s literacy with the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation.”
This incredible program, the first of its kind, follows a hands-on method to ensure that every child within the initiative receives the books they need to strengthen their reading skills. James Pond, President, GELF, conveys how critical widespread literacy efforts are, not only for the students’ but for the state’s future:
“We are honored to help bring the first statewide at-home book delivery program for students and teachers to Tennessee. Through the K-3 Home Library program, we are meeting thousands of students where they are with the books and resources they need to combat learning loss and support learning in the home. Our goal is to shine a light on Tennessee as a leader in collaborative early literacy efforts, and we hope other states look to us to help promote a culture of reading inside and outside of the classroom. It’s more than books. It’s the future of Tennessee.”
Originally launched in 2020, the K-3 Home Library program has grown by 403% and has quickly become one of GELF’s key initiatives. This collaboration and the success that has followed would not be possible without BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundations.
“We recognize the importance of childhood literacy, and we understand that, unfortunately, many Tennessee students may not have access to books, particularly during the summer when school is not in session,” said Chelsea Johnson, director of the BlueCross Foundation. “We hope this grant will help get books into the hands of more of our state’s children, allowing them to maintain and expand critical reading skills, even when they’re not in class.”
One parent said, “My son really enjoyed these books to the point of requesting more books on his own and wanting to pick them out himself, which is new for us.”
For more information, follow @GovEarlyLiteracyTN or visit GovernorsFoundation.org.