For the first time ever, the educational organization and publisher bedroom to read will provide every Kindergarten and Grade 1 student in Collier County with a collection of 10 miscellaneous books this month. The children can take the books home and keep them.
Karen Harmon is the Southeast US Project Manager for Room to Read.
“Room to Read is committed to children’s literacy,” she said. “And what we’re looking for and what we’re doing here in Collier County is trying to create home libraries for kids. We know that Collier County is an area that has what we call ‘book deserts’ which means there are a lot of houses here where they have 10 or no books in the house And of course that’s a concern because if the kids don’t have a books at home, they probably don’t read, and it can hurt their academic performance.
Room to Read has partnered with local nonprofits such as Books for Collier Kids and Grace Place for kids and families to distribute their book of 10 “Peace and Equality Collection” to every Kindergarten and Grade 1 student in Collier County.
Lara Fisher is CEO of Grace Place:
“So for Grace Place, you know, one of the issues that a lot of our families struggle with is that they don’t have a home library,” she said. “There is no dedicated space or dedicated reading time within their household. Often this is because money is scarce and books can be expensive. And when they are able to find books, those books don’t usually look like the families, and for us, it’s really important that we are able to partner or provide books ourselves that represent those families.
Room to Read doesn’t just distribute books, it publishes them. Karen Harmon says they research which segments of the population are not represented and try to recruit scripts that speak to those children. The goal, says Harmon, is to represent all voices in children’s books.
The program is not affiliated with Collier County Schools and parents may opt out of distribution.
Room to Read is planning a collection of Haitian Creole books to be distributed in 2023.
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