I am the librarian at an urban public elementary school (grades K-5) in New York. We are a high needs school with a large population of English Language Learners (54% of our students), and only 52% of our students read at or above their grade levels. To put things simply: my youngest students need science books. Due to the very low ratio of books per student, children can only check out one book per library visit (once every two weeks for the younger grades, and once every four weeks for the older grades).
It is difficult to hear children ask for books when you know that you cannot satisfy their requests. I go through this ordeal almost daily, especially when it comes to science books. I don't have books about many of the topics my students study in class, and the books that I have are usually written at a level far beyond their comprehension. To add to this problem, the science books we have are old and outdated. The average publication year of a science book in the library is 1999 - 10 years old. This means when I have a book that matches a student's interest and reading level, there is a significant chance that the book will be older than the child who wants to read it. Adults may be savvy enough not to judge books by their covers, but children are much more likely to turn away in disdain when faced with an old and dilapidated
To put things simply: my youngest students need science books. They need these books to be both interesting and exciting. They need books that both expand on what they learn in class and cover topics on which they are naturally curious - earth, space, plants, weather, electricity, and more. Most of all, they need books on these subjects that they are able to read and understand! This means that the books must be at a very low reading level, and specifically written for students in second grade and below.
The economic downturn has taken many things away from students, and new, relevant library books were among the many casualties in the school budget this year. With your help, hundreds of students will have access science books that they can read, enjoy, and - most importantly - take in on their own.
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