No one is recession-proof and creative fund-raising ideas are more necessary than ever to ensure that your library’s collection does not fall behind the times. An important key is to create a bond with the community so that everyone feels connected to the library’s success. Jennine Bloomquist in Annsville Area Elementary School in Taberg, New York has done exactly that with the “Thousand Book Project.”
A tangible testimonial that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, the Thousand Book Project begins with 100 bags, each containing ten books each. It goes without saying that the bags are green and therefore are made to be used again and again.
Turning challenges into opportunities
“Since we don’t have public libraries nearby and lots of parents work long hours, this program makes it convenient and easy for parents to read to their children.” Each bag contains both fiction and nonfiction books with similar reading levels. “We have great stories, great fairy tales-families get exposed to lots of different authors that they may not have encountered on their own,” explains Jennine.
Celebrations are the cornerstone of any community project and for each 100 books; the child receives a free book of their very own. A special end of year recognition goes to each child who completes all 1000 books. “It’s amazing that the parents will commit to that much time,” comments the librarian. Yet, the genius of the “Thousand Book Project” is that by breaking it up into ten books per bag, the time required becomes manageable.
Countless studies have proven the benefits of reading aloud not only from the standpoint of improving reading skills and comprehension but also in increased parental involvement. By bonding over the words and pictures of Margaret Wise Brown, Lois Ehlert, Bill Martin and Kevin Henkes, children and their parents will forge an additional bond as they progress through the 1000 books and on to being lifelong readers.
A model program
How can you establish a similar program at your own school and community? Outline your goals-do you want to focus on grades kindergarten through third grade? Do you want to expand it to sixth grade or higher? Write your grant proposals or find bag “sponsors” beginning with local retailers. Perhaps include a diary in each bag so that families can record comments about their favorites or a further reading suggestion. Publish the list-in both the increments and in the glorious final number-on the web and make it available to all sponsors and participants. Create a space for reviews in your library, in your local newspaper, and on your school website. Finally, create a way to honor milestones along the way as well as completion of the entire list.
Benefits that last a lifetime
Inevitably, the ripple effect of embarking on this project will be felt throughout your community, reinforcing the positive impact of a love of reading. As you develop your plans for funding, promotion, logistics and celebrations, be sure to note your partners at each step of the way and include them in all your communications and recognition. As your students work their way through their bags of books, your community will see the positive power of reading in action.