Three years ago, the Lakeshore Excellence Foundation committed $300,000 to support our reading initiative at all of our schools.
To date, reading teachers have spent hundreds of dollars building classroom libraries so that kids have access to quality books all day, every day. Our curriculum is built around students doing independent reading for several minutes every day and this supports that in a BIG way.
When the pandemic came and we were forced to shut down, teachers sent many books with students to read while home, realizing that this was a way to stay connected to reading and to keep all of the progress that had been achieved. What we didn’t know then was that students would not be returning for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, many books were never to come back to the classrooms either.
When school resumed this Fall, students returned to what was familiar and normal. In classes throughout the district, students were excited to pick up books and read. Classroom libraries were raided for new books to read and old favorites to revisit. Thanks to the LEF Reading Matters grant, we were able to restock our classroom library shelves with popular and relevant books. Students were excited to pick up books and read. They
missed the feel of a book in their hands and the fun of turning the pages while journeying through a book. Book clubs resumed with spirited discourse and a sense of normalcy. Reading takes students away to other realities, but it also grounds us in what is familiar.
Learn about the impact of our Reading Matters program through quotes from staff and students:
“The LEF Reading Matters grant has opened a world of possibilities for the children in my classroom. I have been
able to go from having a very sparse 5th grade classroom library, to shelves filled with high interest books. During this uncertain time for both students and teachers, having books in our classroom has continued to give all of my students an opportunity to continue to read. Reading is something they can look forward to, something that has not changed, it remains a constant. They are able to escape the uncertainties of everyday life and enter into the lives of a character through a book. They look forward to reading everyday and ask, ‘When is it reading time?’”
“I could not be more grateful for the Reading Matters grant and how much our foundation values reading–especially right now, as we have been able to use books as a class to connect and process all of our feelings and emotions and grow as a family during this unusual school year.”
“When receiving the books in the mail, it’s almost like Christmas in my classroom for the kids. To see their eyes light up and their excitement about new books is heart-warming. They like to talk about how great each new book is and if they’ve read it or know someone who did. This instantly grows reading excitement within my classroom and gives students the opportunity to talk about books.”
“The money that we have been provided for reading materials for our classroom is invaluable! We are given such a small budget to order things for our classroom, but with this grant, we are able to not only order the books that we need for our students, but also essential materials to keep our books in like canvas book bags, book totes and tubs to store them in!”
“I have even been able to let the students help choose the books that we order for the classroom. This has allowed them to feel ownership of our classroom library and see voice and choice in action.”
“The Reading Program that Lakeshore has adopted integrates research-based instructional practices where reading weaves through everything we do in our class. Throughout the year, I can observe my students begin to develop a love for reading and grow as individual readers everyday. My students are so eager to shop for their books within our classroom library. It is because of the LEF Reading Matters grant that I have been able to provide fiction and nonfiction books at all reading levels for my students to enjoy. Reading is the most exciting part of our day in first grade.”
“I was so happy to see that we had money to replenish our classrooms this year. I lost hundreds of dollars of books over COVID. I also noticed that a lot of the books I lost were the “good” ones–Eleanor and Park, Aristotle and Dante, a few memoirs. These books are the ones that kids love and read over and over. I’m glad to have the money to replenish them, but I’m also glad that the kids that “kept” them get to keep them too. I’ve never had specific money to replenish books, so it feels really good to be able to replace some that have been missing for years.”
“I think that an anecdote from a few students will help best show the impact of this grant. Our first
unit in 7th grade is investigating characterization: essentially, students read as many books as they can by one author with a book club. One pair of girls read every book their author had written, and were hungry for more. At conferences, one of the moms told me that her daughter “does not read, period.” Now, here she was reading multiple books and enjoying them with a friend. To top that, the girls approached me about doing another book club on their own with a different author outside of class. Luckily enough, with Reading Matters, I was able to give the girls multiple options for similar authors and actually have two copies for them to enjoy without having to purchase another.”
“Reading Matters has allowed me to buy books that I wouldn’t normally spend the money on. So many times you have to weigh how much money you have and how much a book costs. With Reading Matters, I have been able to buy Manga, Anime, and more graphic novels than ever before. These books are generally printed in color and cost much more than a regular novel. I feel like I have opened so many more kids up to reading. Sometimes kids don’t think that they’re allowed to read graphic novels because they’re not real “books.” Well, this year we were able to add a graphic novel artist to our author study which brought in a whole new group of readers!”
“LEF’s replenishing of books has been such a blessing. Last March, while it was exciting to empty multiple shelves of
books for students to read while quarantined, the thought did cross my mind regarding how many of these books would return in the fall. I “lost” about 50 books from March 13 to September. Unfortunately, the majority of the books students wanted to read were the new, just published books that could not be found at rummage sales and Goodwills. Because of the generosity of LEF, I’m working on getting all the titles reordered so they can continue to be enjoyed for many years to come.”
“This program has not only changed my teaching for the better, but it has also changed my students’ behavior. I’ve had conversations with students outside of school about books! I had one kid, an athlete, track me down in Meijer to tell me about the series he was reading. I got books to kids via meeting up in parking lots (socially distanced of course).”