Fifty Books. That's what it took for eighty percent of the second graders in a Title One, extremely low-income, elementary school in Virginia to be on grade-level at the start of third grade.
Sam works with a school on the Outer Banks of Virginia that is filled with the children of illegal immigrants, and legal immigrants and migrant farm workers and other impoverished families whose parents struggle to feed and clothe their children.
The principal, frustrated by his teachers' struggles in the classroom, took his teachers on a bus tour of his district. They found children in trailers without indoor plumbing or electricity. Lots of them. By the end of the tour, the teachers were in tears. Their perspectives changed.
This same amazing principal decided that his second graders needed books, so books they would get. He worked out a deal with Scholastic to provide EVERY second grader in his school with ten books at the beginning of the year, twenty books in the middle of the year, and twenty books right before summer break. Fifty books altogether. Fifty books.
Their scores the following fall skyrocketed. They went from about fifty percent of kids being on grade level AT THE START OF THE SCHOOL YEAR to over eighty percent.
Give your kids fifty books this year. Fifty. I'm serious. Do it.
Now to some recs:
First of all, I just want to say that I accidentally reread this:
And I still think it's brilliant and everyone should read it.
I also want to say that Mary is in the middle of my favorite series on earth, and she is having the pleasure of reading it for the first time from the prequel straight through. I am so envious—to get to read this series for the first time! I could never really engage her in these before, but this must be the right time (13?) and now she is loving it.
Shaemus read this series of retellings of the Odyssey and LOVED it:
Look at that picture—can't you tell why?
We've also discovered this great nonfiction series for younger kids: Pebble Plus are the publishers.
The animal books are fantastic with the best pictures.
And here are some new favorite picture books:
50 books. Just do it!