"I hate reading." "I don't like to read." "This is too hard." As a middle school librarian, I hear kids saying things like this all day. Unfortunately, the students who say these things are the kids that most desperately need the extra reading practice.
The 1,098 students at my urban middle school come from a variety of backgrounds, but many of them are high-needs (76% of our students qualify for free or reduced price lunch).
We have a large special ed population (28%) that is getting bigger every year. 12% of our students are English Language Learners. Currently, only 33% of our students are reading at or above grade level. Teachers and administrators at my school are working together to raise this crucial percentage and improve student achievement, but, as is the case across the country, resources are being stretched further every school year.
My lowest achieving students only want to read about "real" drama and "real" problems - in other words, books about urban teens. These books need to be written at an appropriate reading level for my students. Most importantly, these books need to have kids that look like my students on the cover. We have some of these books in my library, but supply does not meet the demand. Recently, I found a publisher that puts out the perfect books that meet every qualification listed above, as well as books about popular rap artists. I left the catalog with these books on the counter for students to see, and the response was unanimous - "When are you getting these? I want to read all of them!" I knew I had to find a way to get these books as soon as possible. If this project is fulfilled, it is guaranteed that many of these habitually low achievers will gain much needed extracurricular reading practice in a fun and painless way - and they will come back begging for more!
Many of my students have spent their school days feeling embarrassed about their reading levels and unenthusiastic about their reading choices.
It is crucial that we reach these students before they lose their motivation to read entirely, and these books will help. If this project is funded, over 1,000 students will have access to these books. With your help, my students will be motivated to read and succeed!
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