ELIZABETHTOWN — Since 2013, North Carolina’s public schools have sent nearly 1 million books home with students thanks to the annual statewide “Give Five – Read Five” campaign.
Just last year, 276 schools and organizations in 71 districts collected and distributed nearly 547,000 books to boost summer reading. This accom-plishment is tremendous as research show that reading just five books during the summer can help students reduce summer learning loss. “Give Five – Read Five” events give students the opportunity to select their own books to take home with them at the end of the school year and keep forever.
Bladen County Schools launched its first “Give Five – Read Five” campaign this past April and the response was incredible. With a first-time goal of collecting 2,500 books through donations and financial contributions, the dis-trict reached out to the community to help support the campaign; And support they did.
“As of the last week of school, our district received 7,485 donated books for distribution to students in grades kindergarten through fourth grade,” said Valerie Newton, public information officer. “We had no idea the re-sponse would be so great. We called on the community to help our students reduce summer learning loss and they answered in a big way.”
“When the campaign kickoff announcement came from the state superintendent’s office, we quickly put together a team of media specialist and district office personnel to draft a plan for Bladen County to participate,” said Tanya Head, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. “Within a week the team had notified each of the primary schools and the communities around those schools announcing our participation in the campaign.”
“Instead of overthinking the process, we all just jumped in and started working,” said Renee Inman, media specialist at Plain View Primary School. “And before long, media centers throughout the county were overflowing with donated books.”
One large donation of books came from a local teacher’s memorial to his mother. Bill Rudin, a fourth-grade teacher at Bladenboro Primary School, donated 1,100 books in memory of his mother Laura R. Rudin.
“My mother in-stilled the love of reading in me and my siblings as children. With each book, her legacy is helping students in Bladen County develop a love for reading as well,” said Rudin. The books were given to students in grades kindergarten through fourth grade in each Bladen County primary school.
“We had several groups that wanted to help with the campaign but did not have books to donate. We were able instead to accept a financial donation from the group and purchase gently used books from Scholastic Books for distribution to students” said Inman. “Although the books were advertised as slightly damaged from books fairs, they hardly had a scratch on them and were titles that the students were familiar with seeing in their school.”
Prior to the last day of school each school held a “book shop” day for students to select at least five books to take home with them. East Arcadia School received enough books for students to select 10 books to take home with them when their collection surpassed the total goal for the district within the first week of the campaign. The school received more than 3,800 books in donations and was the top collection site in the county.
Local groups helping to support the Bladen County “Give Five – Read Five” campaign were the Bladenboro Middle School Battle of the Books team, East Bladen Dream Team, West Bladen Dream Team, Tar Heel Baptist Church, Trinity United Methodist Church Missions group, Trinity United Methodist Church’s Fred Davis Sunday School Class, Second New Light Baptist Church, Singletary United Methodist Church and the Elizabethtown Chapter of DAR.