Community effort to provide 3,400 first graders with books

Community effort to provide 3,400 first graders with books
Posted on 04/12/2021
Community effort to provide 3,400 first graders with books

Book Initiative
By Reesha Brown PISD Communications

“Inspire a love of reading and learning.” This was the idea that laid the groundwork for a community-wide literacy initiative that will soon benefit every first grade student in Pasadena ISD.

In an effort to address a need created by the COVID-19 pandemic, several area churches, along with the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, partnered to raise funds and purchase books for all first-grade students in the district through the Foundation’s My Home Library program.

The books will be distributed during campus-led events at each elementary school on April 30. The date coincides with “Children’s Day/Book Day - El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Día)”, a national library program that fosters literacy for children of all backgrounds.

During the celebrations, campuses will hand out bags containing three books, one with a bookplate, a bookmark, along with family involvement activities.

A total of 10,200 books will be distributed to 3,400 first graders.

“Libraries are places where all members of the community are welcome to use the available resources to pursue their interests. This project is a natural extension of PISD campus libraries in supporting literacy for all children of all backgrounds. We are excited to be included in the celebration of our first grade students as they add to their personal library at home,” said Melissa Rippy, director of libraries and instructional materials.

The book initiative was spearheaded by Rev. Lindsay Kirkpatrick of Asbury United Methodist Church.

Kirkpatrick reached out to churches in the area back in November to organize a “Pasadena One Book Initiative” fundraising event for the Christmas holiday. With the support of First Baptist Church, New Wine Christian Fellowship Church and Parkgate Community Church, the program organizers’ “Christmas in Pasadena” program raised $5,000 in donations, with the intent of putting a book in the hands of each first grader.

“Fostering a love for learning and confidence in the classroom are important building blocks for building a good life, and our churches were happy to partner in this effort,” Kirkpatrick said.

With the help of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, the churches were able to maximize their fundraising efforts. The Foundation made a dollar-for-dollar match for all money raised through the One Book initiative, raising between both entities a whopping $10,000.

“We are very pleased to partner with the Pasadena Independent School District and area churches and organizations to provide books to every first grader in the district,” said Dr. Julie Finck, Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation President. “Access to books in the home is a key strategy to fostering a culture of reading among families and the community and empowering children to become strong, confident and life-long readers. Together, we can make Pasadena a city filled with readers and achievers.”
Multiple organizations and businesses were involved in donating various resources to bring the book donation project to fruition. These donors include:

21st Century Afterschool: family involvement activities - $24,300
- Religious Institutions: One Book Initiative - $5,000
- Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation: dollar for dollar match -
Gulf Coast Educators Credit Unit: 3,500 bags for the books
Pasadena Public Library: 4,000 bookmarks
Pasadena ISD Library Services: 3,500 bookplates
CIS: volunteers
Pasadena ISD Curriculum Department: creation of educational family activities
Pasadena ISD Communication Department: printing of educational family activities
Gloria Gallegos, associate superintendent for special programs said the books will inspire a love of reading among students. 

“It is important to start reading at a young age because reading improves vocabulary, communication, grammar, writing skills and expands their imagination as well as their experiences,” Gallegos said.

The books were specifically selected to engage native English and native Spanish speaking students. These books include:
“The Feelings Book,” written by Todd Parr. The story addresses the wide range of moods among children.

- “Brave,” written by Stacy McAnulty, a superhero book that inspires children to never give up.

- “It’s Okay to be Different,” also written by Todd Parr, which addresses diversity.

“The dual language books, emphasizing social and emotional well-being, are sure to become family favorites for years to come,” said Rhonda Parmer, associate superintendent of campus development.

Program organizers said the books have already been ordered, sorted and are ready to distribute to the campuses ahead of the April 30th campus celebrations. Students enrolled in face-to-face learning will have the opportunity to participate in the campus celebrations. Parent coordinators will distribute the bags to students who are learning virtually.

“It is wonderful to see so many organizations come together to solve a real problem in our community. Early literacy is critical to a child's future success in school. We are grateful to the many people who contributed and to our district leaders who paved the way to make this vision a reality,” said Parmer. 

For more information, please contact your child’s campus. Check back weekly for more stories about the book distribution project.