59,000 books coming to the homes of kindergarten students

Published 2:24 pm Tuesday, October 31, 2023

To build home libraries and strengthen early literacy in Tennessee, Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) has announced the expansion of its K-3 Home Library program to now include kindergarten students enrolled in 32 school districts and charter schools across the state.
In collaboration with Scholastic, the program is delivering six grade-level books and evidence-based literacy resources directly to the homes of more than 9,000 students, teachers, librarians and media specialists this month, at no cost to families, individual schools, or school districts.
Children enrolled in a participating school district were signed up to receive the books with an opt-out option for families, making it easy for kindergarten students to be a part of the program. The books and activity-based resources are selected and curated by GELF’s Educator Advisory Council (EAC), a group of 28 diverse Tennessee educators, to help parents and teachers incorporate the program both inside the classroom and in homes.
This kindergarten pilot is an expansion of GELF’s summer K-3 Home Library program, which has mailed 3.2 million books to more than 490,000 rising 1st through 3rd grade students and teachers since 2020. GELF hopes to expand the program to serve kindergarten statewide in 2024.
Only 40% of Tennessee 3rd graders read proficiently. Research shows language proficiency in kindergarten is the best indicator of reading proficiency in 3rd grade. Young children whose parents read them five books a day enter kindergarten having heard about 1.4 million more words than kids whose parents never read to them.
A two-decade long study found that the presence of a home library increases children’s academic success, vocabulary development, attention and job attainment. Research from the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report: 8th Edition shows that 41% of kids get most of their books from school.
Statewide surveys of Summer 2023 K-3 Home Library participants reveal 31% have 100+ books in their home as a result of the program. Additionally, 96% of parents reported that their children were excited to receive the books and that they were valuable to their family.
Through its Birth-5 Book Delivery program, GELF funds half of the cost of books mailed through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program statewide, supporting local affiliates as they fundraise the other half of the cost. Through their expansion of the K-3 Home Library program, Tennessee children can now receive books from birth to third grade at no cost.
“Our goal is to raise kids on a culture of reading by meeting them where they are with the books and resources they need to become lifelong learners,” said James Pond, GELF President. “We are grateful to work together with school districts, charter schools, and the Tennessee General Assembly to expand this program to kindergarteners as they start their education journey. It’s more than books. It’s the future of Tennessee.”
“By expanding book access for the youngest readers in Tennessee, GELF is not only providing students with the opportunity to become book owners but is giving them the tools they need to learn to read and love to read,” said Amanda Alexander, Chief Academic Officer at Scholastic.
“A child’s literacy journey cannot begin without books, and Scholastic is proud to continue this important work with GELF.”
A parent from Sumner County whose child participated in the K-3 Home Library program in Summer 2023 said, “We read all the books in a week and continue to read them. It even encouraged my sixth grader to order more books offline and read more. We can’t thank you enough.”
A Dyer County educator said, “I have one student who was approaching reading proficiency last year. When our reading scores came back this year, she scored at the highest level, Level 4. She is now classified as an advanced reader. Thank you for supporting our students with this program!”
The K-3 Home Library program is underwritten by the State of Tennessee. For more information, visit GovernorsFoundation.org.

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