By Lesley McCullough McCallister
Read Aloud West Virginia was selected by the Coughlan Companies Communities Fund, in partnership with GreaterGood.org (GGO), to receive a National Book grant valued at nearly $200,000. The gift includes thousands of books that will directly benefit West Virginia children and families.
A portion of those books arrived at the Read Aloud office in Charleston at the end of March. For more than eight hours on Saturday, March 25, volunteer students from Bridge Valley Community and Technical College and Charleston Catholic High School helped package and prepare more than 7,200 books for distribution to 32 Read Aloud West Virginia member schools throughout the state.
These generous volunteers performed a myriad of tasks, including making sure each book received a Read Aloud book plate so the student receiving the book could proudly write his or her name in his or her very own, brand new book. Additionally, students pushed shopping carts around tables in the Columbia Gas building auditorium with “shopping lists” for each school, packaged and labeled shipping boxes, and then loaded the boxes into the rental van for delivery. Each enrolled Read Aloud West Virginia school received 20 books per Read Aloud classroom, and deliveries were made to member schools before the end of the school year.
Executive Director Mary Kay Bond noted the importance of getting these books in the hands of students before the end of the school year, just in time to highlight the importance of summer reading among all students.
“Far too often children lose reading skills over the summer due to a lack of reading,” said Bond. “The result is that teachers have to spend important classroom time at the beginning of the next school year bringing students back to their previous skill level. This remediation time is not necessary if children maintain skills over the summer, and they can do so by reading.”
A second shipment of books is being prepared for distribution at a later time. Once the remaining books are added to the count, Read Aloud West Virginia will have distributed more than 11,000 books from the National Book grant throughout the Mountain State.
Lesley McCullough McCallister is a Read Aloud supporter, volunteer reader, newsletter contributor and a freelance journalist.