Collier Citizen – July 15, 2015
Can you imagine a child growing up without a single book in his or her home?”
“Unfortunately,” she said, “this is the reality facing thousands of kids right here in Collier County. They have no books at home.”
That may seem a bit hard to comprehend but given the school district statistic showing 64 percent of Collier County Public Schools (CCPS) students are economically needy, amplified by the fact that at some schools the needy population hovers near the 100 percent mark, I guess it shouldn’t surprise us.
Books for Collier Kids first started making a difference by handing out books in 2005, and Wyss tells us that “we give books to the children who need them the most, virtually every disadvantaged child from pre-kindergarten to grade 2 from families who are likely to have no books in their homes.”
That’s more than 7,000 children, per the Books for Collier Kids count, and each and every one of them receives a book a month during the school year.
Books for Collier Kids provides more than 75,000 books to students each year, working closely with principals and teachers in the schools and as many as 20 local nonprofit partners. Books chosen for the giveaways are age-appropriate, of course, and they reinforce the classroom curriculum or even extend the schools’ reading efforts.
These are brand spankin’ new books which include a nice nameplate which contains the student’s name. For many on the receiving end, these are the first books they’ve ever owned.
A first-time recipient may be heard to exclaim, “This is my book!” Or, “I love my book!” Sometimes they’ll ask, “Do I get to keep this book? Is it really mine?”
Wyss reflected on seeing the joy and excitement on the faces of the young boys and girls when they realize they are getting a book of their own to take home.
“It is just heartwarming and so wonderful to see,” she said.
An elementary school teacher tells us that “the books are so precious to these children — even more so than toys. Many carry the book back and forth to school in their backpacks.”
A parent of a first-grader thanked Books for Collier Kids for giving her daughter her first book. “For the first time, we have books at home and we are reading together as a family.” And with more than 50 percent of Collier students going home to non-English speaking homes each evening, the bonus benefit of a student having a book at home to read or share with siblings is priceless.
Books for Collier Kids has been working diligently to address the problem of illiteracy in Collier County for 10 years now, having been founded on the premise that the ability to read is crucial.
“Children who can’t read can’t learn,” Wyss stressed. “Children growing up in low-income homes with no books are much more likely to fall behind in their reading ability and may never catch up.”
She maintained that books in the home are critical to a child’s success. “It has been proven that the number of books in the home correlates very strongly with reading skills. The bottom line is, when there are books at home children read more, become better at reading and ultimately learn more.”
As you might suspect, Books for Collier Kids couldn’t do what they do without the support of many generous benefactors and donors. If you’d like to join their ranks, please visit www.booksforcollierkids.org.
– by Joe Landon