Pupils get books of their own

Each Washington youth gets 3 from publisher

June 20, 1999|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

When Washington's 45,000 public elementary school pupils left last week for summer vacation, each took home a gift: three books for summer reading.

The gifts resulted from a quarter-million-book donation to the school system by children's publisher Scholastic Inc., distributed by the literacy group Reading Is Fundamental. The donation also included books for classrooms and parent centers.

"When you look at reading statistics, there is a drop-off when kids aren't reading over the summer months," said Karen Proctor, director of community affairs for Scholastic. "Our hope is they will take [the books] home and read over the summer and be inspired to go to the library and read when they're not in school."

Reading Is Fundamental's president and chief executive officer, William Trueheart, said the Washington-based nonprofit wanted to address the needs of children in its hometown.

"Unfortunately, our own backyard, Washington, D.C., is home to thousands of children living in poverty," he said in a statement.

During the final two weeks of classes, the district's pupils -- the official number is 45,086 -- were allowed to choose three books that interested them. The selections ranged from fiction to historical books about people such as black activist Sojourner Truth.

"If you're on a limited budget, a book is not the first thing you will purchase," said Denise Tann, spokeswoman for the public schools. "We have students who aren't able to own books, and this gives them the opportunity to own books and read them whenever they want to."

Tann said the books will be used in the reading initiative of the system's summer program, S.T.A.R.S. (Students and Teachers Achieving Results and Success), which begins June 28 and enrolls about half of the district's students.

Proctor said the donation was one of the largest in Scholastic's 79-year history.

Pub Date: 6/20/99

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