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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

Books on Break Expansion

Our Education Partnerships Manager, Amy Franks, was invited to share Books on Break with attendees at POWER UP, a series of training workshops provided to afterschool and summer program providers by NC Center for Afterschool Programs.

By Amy Franks, Education Partnerships Manager

Since 2011, through our Books on Break program, we have been providing the opportunity for children in Durham and Orange counties to exercise their right to own books, regardless of their circumstances. In partnership with local elementary schools, we make sure students are starting summer break with backpacks filled with free books they have chosen themselves and will keep forever, with the goal of making summer a time of literacy enrichment and stemming the tide of summer learning loss for all students. In doing so, we are doing our part to ensure that the same worlds that are open to children of means are open to children who live daily with less so that all children see a world where opportunity exists for them. In 2018 alone, 18,742 students took home a record 102,849 books through Books on Break events in Durham and Orange counties. And in the summer of 2019, we will expand that work to reach even more students in North Carolina.

In April 2018, the North Carolina Public School Forum released its Roadmap of Need, a whole-child needs assessment of what children and youth living in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties must have in order to thrive in school and in life. From that Roadmap, we learned that our rural counties, particularly those concentrated in the eastern and southern parts of our state, face a disproportionately high number of challenges. Also, several counties in those areas that fall into high needs categories on the Roadmap are facing additional hardships as a result of Hurricane Florence. Many homes were damaged or lost, schools were closed for lengthy periods, and students missed valuable instructional time. We know that book provision is one key way we can support students in these most challenged counties.

So for summer 2019, we will be expanding Books on Break to Bladen, Columbus, and Robeson counties. Our plan, in cooperation with each school district’s leadership, is to provide on-site and virtual technical assistance to identified schools for replication of the program. We will provide the books, training, and support necessary for the participating schools to provide the children they serve the opportunity to know the excitement and pride that book ownership brings, as well as all of the benefits that come with being a good reader. We anticipate providing 15,455 books to 1,405 students in those three counties this year. We are excited to be able to bring the tools we have created and the lessons we have learned along the way to new communities in our state this summer!

On a personal note, I used to be one of those kids down in the Sandhills, attending a school that was woefully under-resourced, surrounded by adults who wanted more and better for me and my schoolmates. I was one of those kids who discovered and traveled the world in the pages of books. While I had the privilege of growing up in a book-rich home, many of my peers did not. A place like Book Harvest would have made a world of difference to my community and the kids in it back then — and will now for today’s children. I am so proud of this organization and humbled to be in this position, to be able to go “home” and do this work, to serve the community I live in now AND the community that raised me.

You can learn more about NC  CAP’s POWER UP Program, pictured above, here.

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