Project Summary: The purpose of this project was to collect new and gently used inspirational children’s books for kids in need, K-5 generally and 3rd Grade specifically, for the Spartanburg County District 7 Summer Reading Camps and for use in elementary school fall learning. With Covid-19, South Carolina students started doing remote learning in March 2020. Many are continuing with virtual learning this academic year. This can create learning gaps – especially for students without print-rich environments at home.

This team sought to target at risk children situated at the intersection of racial and class inequality. Spartanburg School District 7 is a majority-minority district with a poverty index nearing 70%. Race and class inequalities exacerbate educational disparities, particularly with early reading: “Reading is the most crucial academic skill because it is the foundation for learning. Through third grade children are learning to read; after third grade students read to learn…. They lag in every class, year after year because more than 85 percent of the curriculum is taught by reading.” (The Children’s Reading Foundation – “Third Grade Reading Success Matters”).

The group created a list of diverse, motivational, and inspirational books for purchase directly on Amazon and delivery to Greenville, and also designated two drop-off locations for gently used books in Greenville and Spartanburg. The original goal was to collect 500 books. We ended up collecting 1,000 books and serving 125 kids with personalized bags of 7 books each at 5 elementary schools (Cleveland Academy, Drayton Mills, E.P. Todd, Jesse Boyd, Mary H. Wright, Meeting Street, and Pine Street), with books left over to service the school libraries. If 47% of Spartanburg County children are ready for success in Kindergarten, that means 53% are not. Instead, they are identified as At Risk or Vulnerable. During difficult times like these, it helps to know we are paying it forward to help kids in need. Because “Together We Read To Succeed!”