E.I. Morris Early Childhood Center received a grant from bestselling author James Patterson to support its school library. In addition, Scholastic Reading Club will match each dollar of Patterson’s donation with “bonus points” that teachers can use to acquire books and other materials for their classrooms. E.I. Morris Early Childhood Center was selected amongst thousands of applications for funding grants.
James Patterson and Scholastic Reading Club announced in March 2016 that Patterson would donate $1.75 million to save school libraries nationwide in the second installment of his School Library Campaign. As part of an ongoing effort to keep books and reading a number one priority in the United States, selected school libraries will be receiving grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. Since the grant program’s launch in 2015, Patterson has donated $3.5 million to school libraries nationwide, with all funds are being personally donated by Patterson.
“We’ve just come out of the most divisive presidential election in history – and among all the issues that captivated voters, education wasn’t one of them. It was hardly discussed,” says Patterson. “Nearly half of the American population reads at or below a basic level, and we need to address that problem to foster an informed future electorate. I’ve made it my mission to underscore the vital role reading plays in children’s lives, and the need to sustain school libraries is at the heart of that mission.”
Morris received $2,000 to purchase new library books for its library and was the only school in Delaware to receive this. The grant will be used by Morris’ School Librarian Diane O’Hara to purchase non-fiction books and easy to read-a-long kits for listening centers. Teachers check these kits out weekly so that students can listen to a story and answer some comprehension questions. “We are excited to get this grant for our school library.,” said O’Hara. “We have a diverse community at Morris and many children need to be exposed to non-fiction subject matters. This gives them some schema to pull from when reading stories in class.”
In the first-ever partnership of its kind, Patterson joined forces with Scholastic Reading Club to administer funding applications to their network of 62,000 schools and 800,000 teachers. Schools entering were asked to share the story of their school library, including past efforts to make improvements and “great ideas to help create a brighter future.” Patterson personally read and selected the winning recipients of the grants. Based on past winners, school libraries across the country have been using this funding to purchase new books, add bookshelves, make improvements to their catalog systems, and expand their programing.
“Libraries are important to schools and communities because this is where children have an opportunity to explore, even though it is through the pages of a book,” said O’Hara. “Reading is one of the most important elements in a child’s life. If adults show that it is enjoyable, then children will want to participate and read.”
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