Did you know the all-volunteer nonprofit organization Books for Collier Kids has donated more than 1.6 million new, age-appropriate books since launching in 2005?
Currently, BCK distributes 100,000 books to approximately 7,400 children each school year.
Originally, the all-volunteer group distributed new titles to pre-kindergarten students, then moved on to donate books to primary children in Title I schools across the District. With ongoing community support and a solid relationship with the school system, the program expanded to non-Title I schools and plans are in the works to provide books to all pre-k through 2nd graders.
This upcoming year, the 501c3 will add Pelican Marsh Elementary, Vineyards Elementary and Tommie Barfield Elementary schools, ensuring children in 32 Collier County elementary schools have books to read, share and cherish for life.
While much of the distribution does happen during the school year (a new book each month to at-risk students), BCK also works to off-set the phenomenon known as “Summer Slide” where children without steady access to books during summer break enter fall classes with reading scores 30% lower than their peers.
Without intervention, these at-risk students are nearly THREE grades behind in reading skills by the end of 5th grade, placing them at greater risk for academic failure, delinquency, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, unemployment, low productivity and welfare dependency.
To address the critical concerns associated with Summer Slide, BCK has distributed 15,000+ new, age-appropriate books with related curriculums to Grace Place for Children & Families, YMCA of Marco Island and Naples, Boys & Girls Club (Naples and Immokalee), Guadalupe Center, Friends of Foster Children Forever, C’MON Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples, Garguilo Education Center, Collier County Sheriff’s Department and Youth Haven to keep kids reading year-round.
June 13, 2023 Special to Immokalee Bulletin (read article on online here)