I teach 6th, 7th, and 8th grade English and History in California.
Our school is over 95% free lunch, which is an indicator of the poverty level of our students' families. Most of them have no books at home and most come from homes where English is not the first language.
California ranks almost last in the country in books per pupil, even though research shows that this is one of the strongest and most reliable indicators for literacy.
We are a new school and our library is only half stocked with books!
I want my students to be surrounded by books all day. I have spent hundreds of my own dollars on eBay buying books, but most of the collections I find are fiction books.
In order for students to leverage their reading and speed up their progress, they MUST read non-fiction books in order to build their background knowledge of otherwise unfamiliar subjects.
Non-fiction is a place where students who excel in other subject areas can build confidence and pursue their own personal interests while doing an activity that is proven by research to exponentially increase their vocabulary and comprehension (see books and articles by Jim Trelease and Stephen Krashen).
How can students read The Watsons Go To Birmingham - 1963 if they don't know who Martin Luther King is, and they don't know where Birmingham is, and they don't know that Alabama is a state, and they don't know that Michigan and Alabama are worlds apart, not just because it's warmer in Alabama, but because of history? As teachers, we are routinely asked to just "fill in" these gaps. But there is a better way to fill them in. READING!
Thank you for taking the time to read this proposal. I give my word that any materials we are able to purchase as a result of your contributions will truly make a difference in the lives of the students.
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