According to 2018 TNReady test scores almost 80 percent of Shelby County Schools' third-graders are not proficient in reading. Read901, convened by Literacy Mid-South, is working to get 90 percent of third-graders reading at grade level by 2025.
Over the summer, Read901 provided more than 3,000 students with summer programming. Each student participant received at least three books to take home.
Over the holidays, Read901 is partnering with Novel to get at least 1,000 books donated to local children through the bookstore. The drive ends Dec. 31.
Donors can buy any children’s book at Novel, specifying the books as a Literacy Mid-South/Read901 donation at checkout. Books also can be purchased for donation online. Gift cards can be donated also.
“Literacy Mid-South and Novel share a common mission to increase literacy levels and grow readers,” said Nicole Yasinsky, Novel's marketing manager. “As booksellers, we at Novel truly believe that getting people reading builds empathy and can lead to a greater understanding of each other.”
The recommended titles for the drive include Adam Rubin books, the “Elephant & Piggie” series, Andrea Beaty books, Drew Daywalt books, the “Dyamonde Daniel” series, Ezra Jack Keats books, the “EllRay Jakes” series, “Skippyjon Jones” series, the “Black Panther” series and Dr. Seuss books.
Read901 has been around for four years.
Lindsey Johnson, Literacy Mid-South’s director of development, said that the organization wants to encourage children reading. The drive is designed to help children start their own personal library, as well as figure out their reading interests.
Third grade is the focus because it is the last year children are taught to read in the classroom. After that students will need to read to learn.
“It becomes an uphill battle for them,” Johnson said.
But books are not the only ways Read901 is working in child literacy. Read901 also provides curriculum and assessments and facilitates partnerships.
The partners provide out-of-school learning, after school and in the summer, to help students get up to grade level in reading. This year those partners included Agape Child & Family Services, Camp Love & Learn (Catholic Charities of West Tennessee), Emmanuel Center, Knowledge Quest, Memphis Athletic Ministries, Refugee Empowerment Program, Y-CAP (YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South), Boys & Girls Club of Greater Memphis, Neighborhood Christian Center, Project Transformation, City of Memphis Community Centers, Arise2Read and OneFamily Memphis.