News Releases

MAY 27, 2021

Start Reading Now Again Partners with Follett to Help Counter ‘Summer Slide,’ Pandemic Learning Loss

Nearly 22,000 Books to be Distributed Free to Young Students in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Again this year, nearly 2,750 local young students from predominantly low-income families will be receiving free print books to read over the summer as the result of a continuing charitable effort led by Start Reading Now, a local literacy nonprofit organization, and powered by Follett, an Illinois-based education solutions provider.

The first through third grade students, from selected Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), will select eight print books from Follett Book eFairs, the company’s online equivalent of a traditional school book fair. A key differentiator with the Start Reading Now-Follett partnership is that students are allowed to choose books they are excited to read rather than receiving a bag of pre-selected titles that may or may not interest them.

This is the second consecutive year Start Reading Now and Follett have partnered in a long-term initative to promote summer reading and help families build at-home libraries. Approximately 22,000 books will be delivered to MPS schools and distributed to students prior to June 11, the final day of the school year, with all expenses covered by Start Reading Now.

The nonprofit has funded more than 20,000 kids in Minneapolis totaling 250,000 new books since its founding in 2014. Earlier this year, Start Reading Now transitioned to leadership under Atomic Data, a longtime, financial, and volunteer supporter of the organization. Atomic Data is Minnesota’s on-demand, always-on, IT as a service provider.

Jim Wolford, Start Reading Now’s chairman and CEO of Atomic Data, has long been passionate about literacy-focused community programs.

“Literacy is at the root of so many social issues,” Wolford said. “An early love of reading almost always equals greater future opportunity. With Start Reading Now we’re trying to level the playing field and get books in front of kids that need them most. Follett is helping us achieve that mission with a kid-friendly, teacher-approved eFair and with its help we’ve created a formula for success, easily replicated across the Midwest and the nation.”

Follett Book eFairs debuted in early 2020, giving schools the opportunity to derive many of the same benefits of a Follett Book Fair — broad range of books, better rewards, ease of use – but in an online environment.

“We understand the critical importance of helping to promote these students’ love of reading, especially when you combine the ‘summer slide’ with learning loss suffered during the pandemic,” said Britten Follett, executive vice president, Follett School Solutions. “These are unprecedented times in education and we are thrilled to again partner with Start Reading Now to give these young learners a good reason to choose recreational reading as one of their summer activities.”

For more information about:
• Start Reading Now, visit
• Follett School Solutions, visit
• Follett Book eFairs, visit

About Start Reading Now |
Start Reading Now was founded in 2014 to address the lack of books in low-income households, and the leading role that plays in the “summer slide” and the achievement gap. The program funds vouchers for 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders to buy 8 news books each year at the start of the summer. Since 2014 the program has funded more than 20,000 kids in Minneapolis to buy nearly a quarter of a million new books. Find Start Reading Now on Facebook and follow on Twitter (@StartReadingMPS).

About Follett’s PreK-12 Business |
Follett is the largest provider of educational materials and technology solutions to PreK-12 libraries, classrooms, learning centers, and school districts in the United States, and a major supplier to educational institutions worldwide. Follett distributes books, reference materials, digital resources, ebooks, and audiovisual materials, as well as pre-owned textbooks. Follett also is one of the leading providers of integrated educational technology for the management of physical and digital assets, the tracking, storing and analyzing of academic data, and digital learning environment tools for the classroom focusing on student achievement. Find Follett on Facebook, and follow on Twitter (@FollettLearning).


Media Contact:
Doug Thompson
Thompson Drake Public Relations

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