The Rotary Club of Nashville and the Nashville Public Education Foundation (NPEF) delivered 8,000 books to two local elementary schools this week as part of a new pilot program called “Book Nooks.” The program is designed to address part of the city’s early literacy challenge – the fact that half of our elementary school classrooms have 100 or fewer books, with many classrooms containing next to none.
Expanding classroom libraries was one of the recommendations in the Nashville Literacy Collaborative’s (NLC) “Blueprint for Early Childhood Success,” released earlier this month, which aims to double the number of third-graders who read on grade level by 2025. A critical piece of learning to read is ensuring kids have access to high-interest books on a range of reading levels; but less than half of all elementary school classrooms in Nashville have more than 100 books, with many having next to none. Combined with the knowledge that each of these classrooms has approximately 20 to 22 students, all reading on different levels, it is clear teachers do not have the resources they need to help students fall in love with reading.
The effort to address acute classroom library needs is a joint venture leveraging public and private investment. This year, MNPS funded classroom libraries in five high-needs schools. Through the Rotary Club partnership, the NPEF was able to add two more – Rosebank and Hattie Cotton elementary schools and, in turn, pilot a way to better engage the corporate and philanthropic communities in meeting those needs.
“Improving literacy and improving our schools cannot be the work of the school district alone. It requires public–private partnerships with community organizations across the city,” said Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph. “This collaboration with the Rotary Club is a great example of what can be achieved when the community is aligned under one goal and a unified plan.”
This month, volunteers from the Downtown Rotary Club helped prepare the books for delivery. Volunteers will return to the schools throughout the year to read to students, serving as role models and mentors in the classroom and sharing their love of reading with students.
“The Rotary members are committed to serving and creating lasting change within our community,” said Evette White, Rotary Club of Nashville president. “The Book Nooks program is a way for our city’s leaders to serve students directly as mentors and inspirations, and to make a positive impact on our community by investing in the education and future of our city’s children. Today we are making sure that each child in the Rosebank and Hattie Cotton schools can find a book that inspires a love a reading.”