“I am a reader!” shouted the first grade students of Stocking Elementary, responding to Principal JoAnn Riemersma last fall. Children want to read. Studies confirm what teachers have known for years: the more contact children have with books; the better readers they will become. But for students in low income households, regular access to reading material can be a challenge, and as a result, reading proficiency lags. In fact, statewide MEAP results show a 10-15% drop in reading proficiency for students from low income households compared to their peers.
A strong literacy-building classroom library is one of the best tools to bridge this access gap. It integrates literacy into the fabric of the classroom by providing a collection of books that are always available to students during the day.
Some characteristics of a great classroom library are:
• 20-25 titles, with multiple copies of each
• A wide range of reading complexity to challenge readers at all levels
• A variety of genres to appeal to diverse readers
The Student Advancement Foundation has taken on the challenge to ensure that every K-3 classroom in Grand Rapids Public Schools has a fully stocked classroom library.
Recently, local accounting firm Hungerford Nichols CPAs + Advisors joined in the Foundation’s efforts. The employees set aside their clients’ 1099s for a different numbers game. Pooling their quarters and dollars together, the firm collected money to underwrite a complete library for one classroom in Grand Rapids Public Schools. Thank you Hungerford!
Our children want to be readers and it is our goal to provide them with the resources to be the best readers they can. Reading is the gift that gives back forever. As Principal Riemersma shared after an SAF reading visit: “Our first graders had such a great time! All day I heard ‘I’m feeling a little blue,’ or ‘This is really a pink day!’ So funny how quickly they pick up on the feeling/color association! Just want you to know how much we appreciated the books and the visit.”
We want to hear from you! Have a story to share about the importance of literacy or interested in learning more about helping to support a classroom library? Email Cara at Cara@grsaf.org.