Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation, in collaboration with Scholastic, expands its K-3 Home Library program to benefit 162,000 teachers and students across Tennessee, marking the first statewide roll-out of an at-home book delivery program for K-3 students
NASHVILLE — To combat summer learning loss in Tennessee and support student learning in the home, Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) today announced the expansion of its K-3 Home Library program to deliver 970,000 books to teachers and students statewide this summer, including every rising first and second grader enrolled in a public school in Tennessee. In collaboration with Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, 162,000 students and teachers will receive a pack of six high-quality, age-appropriate books and literacy resources. The packs will be delivered directly to the homes of participating students and teachers, at no cost to families or school districts.
Through the K-3 Home Library program, GELF is partnering with 146 school districts and charter schools to deliver books in all 95 Tennessee counties this summer. Children enrolled in a participating school district are signed up to receive the books unless a caregiver chooses to opt them out, making it easy for families to be a part of the program.
The books were selected by GELF’s Educator Advisory Council (EAC), a group of 21 diverse Tennessee educators that serve GELF’s K-3 initiatives. The EAC also created activity-based resources that are being provided to teachers and parents to help them incorporate the program’s books in the classroom and in the home.
Only 32% of Tennessee third graders read proficiently, a 16% decline since 2019. According to the Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee ranks 31st in the country in fourth grade reading proficiency, a ranking calculated using results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, better known as the Nation’s Report Card.
Third grade reading proficiency is the benchmark where children transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn” and is a key indicator for a child’s future educational success and workforce readiness. A student not reading at his or her grade level by the end of the 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate high school on time. Research shows that two to three months of proficiency is lost for students who do not read over the summer but reading four to six books has the potential to stop, mitigate or reverse this “summer slide.”
A two-decade long study found that the presence of a home library increases children’s academic success, vocabulary development, attention and job attainment. Children with as few as 25 books in the home complete an average of two more years of schooling than those with no books.
This is GELF’s third year collaborating with Scholastic to deliver books and resources to students and teachers during the summer. Since 2020, GELF’s K-3 Home Library program has placed more than 2.1 million books in the homes of more than 205,000 elementary school students and teachers. Books have been delivered in all 95 Tennessee counties, in partnership with 94% of Tennessee school districts.
“We are honored to help bring the first statewide at-home book delivery program for students and teachers to Tennessee,” said James Pond, GELF President. “Through the K-3 Home Library program, we are meeting thousands of students where they are with the books and resources they need to combat learning loss and support learning in the home. Our goal is to shine a light on Tennessee as a leader in collaborative early literacy efforts, and we hope other states look to us to help promote a culture of reading inside and outside of the classroom. It’s more than books. It’s the future of Tennessee.”
Pond was joined by Chris Hedrick, Senior Vice President of Sales, Scholastic Education Solutions, and children’s book author Carmen Agra Deedy at Mayfield Elementary in Cleveland on June 8 to officially kick off the “Stop the Slide!” campaign and announce the expansion of the K-3 Home Library program with participating students and teachers. Carmen Agra Deedy performed a special read-aloud of her book, “The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!,” that students will receive through the program, and local mascots helped distribute books to students and teachers in attendance.
“Books can be a source of comfort, learning and joy, and Scholastic is committed to ensuring that every child has the opportunity to experience all the benefits of reading, including a sense of ownership by having their own home library. We are so proud to be part of this statewide effort in Tennessee and to execute a shared mission in advancing children’s literacy with the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation,” said Chris Hedrick, Senior Vice President of Sales, Scholastic Education Solutions
The K-3 Home Library program has grown by 403% since 2020 and has quickly become one of GELF’s key initiatives. The success of previous collaborations spurred GELF and Scholastic to explore ways to reach even more students this summer.
One educator said, “This is one of the most beneficial initiatives for increasing literacy that I have witnessed as an educator.”
One parent said, “My son really enjoyed these books to the point of requesting more books on his own and wanting to pick them out himself, which is new for us.”
The K-3 Home Library program is underwritten by the state of Tennessee with key support from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation.
“We recognize the importance of childhood literacy, and we understand that, unfortunately, many Tennessee students may not have access to books, particularly during the summer when school is not in session,” said Chelsea Johnson, Director of the BlueCross Foundation. “We hope this grant will help get books into the hands of more of our state’s children, allowing them to maintain and expand critical reading skills, even when they’re not in class.”
To help “Stop the Slide!,” GELF encourages Tennesseans to join the Foundation’s “Booker’s Book Club” on social media this summer by posting photos of their children reading with the hashtags #BookersBookClubTN #StoptheSlideTN. For more information, follow @GovEarlyLiteracyTN or visit GovernorsFoundation.org.