If it weren’t for Winding Springs Elementary, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools would be an also-ran in North Carolina’s quest to collect donated books for summer reading.
By tapping friends, neighbors, churches and business contacts, the faculty at Winding Springs collected 10,549 new and used books last year. That was enough that the north Charlotte school, which has about 900 students, sent each child home with 10 books last summer. It was also enough to win a Wednesday visit from State Superintendent June Atkinson, who is kicking off the 2016 drive.
This is the fourth year of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Give Five – Read Five campaign to collect books for elementary students who might not otherwise read during the summer. The idea is that donors give at least five books and each child gets at least five.
In 2015, Winding Springs’ total was topped by only two schools in the state, both outside the Charlotte area. CMS logged 26,183 books for 11 schools, with a boost from Hough High and St. Matthew Catholic School, which held book drives.
But that tally for the state’s second largest district was dwarfed by the 114,964 books collected for kids in the slightly larger Wake County school system. Even Rowan-Salisbury Schools, a much smaller district just northeast of Mecklenburg, got almost 46,000.
Leaders in CMS and Charlotte community say reading skills are a top priority, and books are being donated through other programs as well. Read Charlotte, a coalition created last year to help young children read better, channeled 30,000 donated books to high-poverty CMS schools earlier this year. Executive Director Munro Richardson attended Wednesday’s event at Winding Springs to learn more about Give Five – Read Five.
“Given the strong correlation between books in the home and reading proficiency, we know increasing access to books should be part of the overall mix of any strategy to help children with their reading – particularly over the summer months,” he said.
This year there’s an added benefit to the state’s summer reading program: All students will have free summer access to myON, a digital reading service that gives kids access to books on their reading level from their phones, tablets or computers. Winding Springs students got that service early as a prize for their strong showing, and students have read 11,000 digital books since October, said Principal Courtney Wall.
Winding Springs isn’t a school with a lot of affluent families, but Wall says the secret to success was organizing the faculty and tapping everyone who might give books. Her own neighborhood association chipped in, and a police officer put a collection box at a local bookstore.
“Whatever we can think of is what we’re doing,” Wall said. “Every single staff member in the school goes out to the community.”
This year’s goal: 12,000 books.
CMS will collect new and used books April 20 through May 25. Donations can be dropped at any school in the district and will be channeled to schools that have students in need (indicate that the books are for Give Five – Read Five). For details about the state program: www.dpi.state.nc.us/give5read5
Give Five – Read Five
Districts that collected more than 20,000 books in 2015.
Source: N.C. Department of Public Instruction