Two not-for-profit organizations serving young students from low-income families have partnered with Follett and its online book fairs to keep kids reading to help counter the “summer slide,” which is expected to have greater impact this year when combined with the COVID-19 school closures.
Since neither Minneapolis’ Start Reading Now nor Seattle’s Page Ahead were able to hold traditional school book fairs just prior to the summer break, the two organizations turned to Follett seeking an online solution. The Illinois-based education solutions provider responded quickly to the separate requests and arranged to hold Follett Book eFairs to ensure the young children each had as many as a dozen books to read over the summer. Follett shipped nearly 80,000 print books combined to the two organizations.
“Supporting choice was very important to both Start Reading Now and Page Ahead as they wanted their kids to be empowered to select their own books online just as they would do so with a traditional onsite fair,” said Britten Follett, Executive Vice President, Follett School Solutions. “We were thrilled to help promote these kids’ love of reading print books, especially when student achievement and literacy skills have the potential to suffer greater loss than normal due to the extended time away from school.”
Start Reading Now, which serves students attending Minneapolis Public Schools, hosted 25 Follett Book eFairs for a total of 2,100 youths in grades 1 through 3. According to co-founder Kevin Terrell, each student was allowed to select eight books of their choice and ultimately have them delivered to their homes, with all the costs covered by Start Reading Now.
“Our research shows the importance of provding the right number of books at the right time of life for the right duration of time,” said Terrell, who helped start the organization seven years ago. “How important are the books to these kids? During the unrest here in Minneapolis earlier this month, a local post office was burned down and we had kids calling their teachers frantically wondering if their summer books would still be delivered.”
Page Ahead, which serves kindergarten through second grade low-income students throughout the state of Washington, turned to Follett and Follett Book eFairs for its annual reading program, “Book Up Summer.” According to Susan Dibble, executive director, Page Ahead provided 12 books each to more than 13,000 students from Seattle to Spokane with the goal to ensure they are gaining the literacy skills to be reading well by third grade.
“We really appreciated how easy Follett eFairs were for our families to use,” Dibble said. “These books are for the joy of reading, something they’re really interested in, and go a long way to building these kids’ home libraries. The more words we can get them to read now, the stronger readers they will become.”
Follett Book eFairs debuted earlier this year 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 – in an online environment. Whether schools schedule them at times when they’re not holding a physical book fair, or turn to them because they don’t have the ability to offer an on-site fair, Follett Book eFairs present a convenient opportunity to schools for fundraising and to further support reading at home.
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