Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation grant helps build student home libraries
Emily Cortez, a second-grader at Terrace Elementary School, proudly holds up a copy of her new children’s book, Who Was Walt Disney?
This book and many more were included in the brown grocery bag packed by up by nine Terrace teachers before a drive-up or walk-up distribution held Tuesday, May 26, at the Spring Branch ISD campus. Teachers packed up books earlier.
Emily and her grandmom, Sonia Cortez, walked up to the drive next to the school cafeteria to receive summer books from a socially appropriate distance.
“I love the characters,” Emily says of Mr. Disney’s world, including his movies and books, and the popular Florida theme park. “I like his castle lit up at night and the fireworks they have there.”
A good reader, she likes stories designed for young girls like her, but “only if they are interesting.”
In a scene repeated at elementary schools across SBISD, summer books for home libraries were distributed to students and families. Kindergarten through second-grade books were given out at Terrace on Tuesday followed by two distributions for older students on Wednesday and Thursday.
Books for the home libraries of first- and second-graders in SBISD are supported through a $25,000 grant from the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, as first announced on May 19 by the Spring Branch Education Foundation.
The grant to buy new books for the two early grade levels supports at-home and summer learning. Literacy – reading and writing skills – during the earliest school years is a key district priority.
“Our teachers and faculty are very excited about this opportunity,” said Cece Thompson, SBEF’s executive director, in prepared remarks. “These books will be a gift to each child’s home library, increasing the likelihood of maintaining or improving a child’s reading level during the summer.”
Read the full SBEF press release.
The campus-based bags of books distributed earlier this week are supported by a school librarian curated, online Summer Reading Guide.
This was a collaborative effort with the Humanities team and SBISD librarians.
For Terrace Elementary Principal April Falcon Blanco, watching these books go out the cafeteria door on Tuesday was deeply moving and compelling.
“For some students, this will mean that they have their own grade-level books to read this summer. Some of our students do not have personal libraries at home, and for them, this [book distribution] event is about access,” the principal says.
“It makes a huge difference for so many students because none of us are visiting [local public] libraries right now, and in some families there is not enough money right now for books,” noted Terrace parent and SBISD educator Reesa Nevarez, a special education diagnostician.
Second-grader Marcus, her son, is a huge reader, advanced enough to talk about his love of the Harry Potter action-adventure series.
“I like reading so much. Every time I read a book, I pick something new,” he says.
Emily’s grandmother welcomed the Tuesday school visit amid all of the ongoing concerns. “It’s really good for her to stay home this summer and read,” a smiling Mrs. Cortez says.
This summer, thousands of SBISD students will be reading a new book. There’s an incredible and ambitious effort in supporting a brighter future for all in the simple book handouts that took place curbside at schools across SBISD this week.
Have a great summer and read on!