by Kimberly Green, Public Relations Manager
Georgia first lady Sandra Deal greeted students at Atlanta Public Schools’ Dunbar Elementary as Athens-based Books for Keeps distributed 12 free books to each student April 30 to encourage summer reading at home.
Dunbar Elementary was selected as the Atlanta location for Books for Keeps in partnership with APS and the Annie E. Casey Foundation Civic Site in Atlanta. Books for Keeps invited students to go to the school gym by grade level to select books. Each student also had 20 to 30 minutes to browse his or her new books before carrying them home in a tote bag provided by the organization. Books for Keeps’ mantra is “no child should go a summer without great books to read.”
“Books have the power to transform our lives; to reveal new ways of seeing the world; and, in the simplest sense, to keep our neurons firing and our brains active,” said Books for Keeps Executive Director Leslie Hale. “However, far too many children lack access to books during summertime for a range of reasons, and it is hurting their educational outcomes. Our goal is to change that one school at a time.”
Hale said Books for Keeps was founded with a simple mission: to provide children with guaranteed access to books in order to stop summertime learning loss, also known as “summer slide.”
The organization’s program expansion out of Athens is part of a commitment made in 2011 to the Clinton Global Initiative. At the time, Books for Keeps committed to serving every Athens school where 90 percent or more students qualify for free or reduced lunch, and to reach one school in urban Atlanta and one school in rural Georgia.
About Dunbar Elementary School: Paul L. Dunbar Elementary is a school where excellence is expected and all children are developed academically, emotionally, and socially in order to become globally competitive. Located in the heart of the Mechanicsville Community. Dunbar was founded in 1967 and opened its doors in 1969. The school was named after the famous poet, Paul Laurence Dunbar, one of the first African-American poets to gain national eminence. Since opening, Dunbar has served as a light of hope for students, parents and community members. The school was the focus of the Philadelphia-based Annenberg Foundation’s turnaround efforts in the Mechanicsville community. Dunbar Elementary has been infused with new-found optimism, punctuated by an increase in parental involvement and dedicated community/business partnerships. www.atlantapublicschools.us/dunbar.
About Books for Keeps: Books for Keeps started as one woman’s effort to help a child who loved to read but had no books at home. The nonprofit was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization in 2011. Books for Keeps distributes books to students ranging from pre-K through 12th grade. The flagship elementary school program, Stop Summer Slide!, is based on a University of Florida study that found giving economically-disadvantaged elementary school children each 12 high-interest books at the beginning of summer had an impact on reading achievement statistically similar to attending summer school. In May 2014, it has plans to distribute 45,000 books through Stop Summer Slide! at 10 elementary schools in Athens, Atlanta, and Warrenton. To learn more about Books for Keeps, visit www.booksforkeeps.org.