The lack of books in the homes of some children can pose a major barrier to literacy, which explains why Dallas ISD corporate and community partners have recently stepped up to fill a critical need in the district’s literacy programs. Retailers Macy’s and Target, financial services firm KPMG and the Dallas Association of Retired Teachers are making a difference for students through book donations to school libraries and to children for their personal home libraries.
This month, KPMG will deliver 250 books and a bookshelf to six Dallas ISD schools. “Strong reading skills are the basis for future success, and the toughest roadblock to children’s literacy in low-income communities is a lack of books,” said Debra Chism from KPMG.
She explained that KPMG considers supporting communities through programs that promote workforce readiness, a long-term strategic investment that pays off by creating leaders prepared to tackle the challenges of a global marketplace.
Through Reading Is Fundamental, Macy’s recently provided 17,397 books valued at nearly $35,000 for children in 56 district elementary schools. These became part of the students’ home libraries, books they can call their own. While volunteering at Macy’s stores last summer, several district librarians with Reading Is Fundamental programs on their campuses talked to shoppers about the program, resulting in additional funding for their libraries.
John W. Carpenter Elementary received book donations from Target and DART this year. Media Specialist Lucretia Bibbs feels the school “got the best of both worlds – books that will stay in the library and books that the children get to keep.” She explained the donations featured a variety of genres new to her students, giving them the sense of empowerment that comes with making personal choices about what they read.
Earlier this year, Target renewed a $50,000 grant to continue the IRead Kindergarten Backpack Program. The funding supports 25 schools in feeder patterns with the lowest scores in reading comprehension and vocabulary development. Each week, students take home books in their native languages along with activities to reinforce their learning, returning them at the end of the week. The program is designed to not only increase literacy, but also build parent and student interaction at home.
According to Gay Patrick, director of Library Media Services, “The donation goals are to reduce illiteracy within our community, which is about 91 percent (eligible for) free and reduced lunch. Library budgets are not sufficient to provide enough up-to-date books and resources. These corporate donors help the district accomplish its goals.”