We know that literacy is the number one determining influence on a child's future success. In September of 2014 the Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals made the decision to combat literacy in Springfield by bringing our motto, Making A Difference, into the lives as many children in Springfield as possible. We sponsored the Truck of Books for Springfield initiative through our affiliation with First Book and the American Federation of Teachers.
Along the way we met our share of critics. "We have libraries, they can get a books there..There are plenty of books, children just don't like to read..It's a scam, who would send that many books to kids they don't even know." We persevered. We knew that statistically only one in 300 children living in a low income environment owned a single book. We read that "61% of low-income families have no age-appropriate books in their homes." We were told that studies proved that "The only behavior measure that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in the home. "
We looked for partners in the Springfield community. Over 215 schools, civic groups, community organizations and faith groups answered our call and joined us in our mission to bring 40,000 free brand new books to the children of Springfield. After 2,000 individuals registered for First Book, we got word that Disney Publications had donated the books and that they were on the way.
On August 17 2015 the books arrived in an 18 wheeler, on 26 skids in 52 cartons. 19 tons of books.
For the next two days volunteers from all over the city came to help unpack and sort the books.
We were ready..Over 47,000 books for all age groups!
On Saturday August 29th we opened the doors to Springfield Central High School and families from Springfield were streaming through the doors. Many of the children were so excited with their brand new books that they started reading right there in the aisles!
The line was so long at one time that it wrapped around the front of the school and the wait was over 45 minutes. The families were kind and understanding when we explained that it was taking a little longer because each child was being allowed to individually pick out at least 5 books. We had a lot of unexpected visitors. They heard about all the excitement and wanted to share in it!
The best part of the day materialized when you looked out at the tree lined lawn and saw everyone reading!
It was a fabulous day! Children and their families took home over 40,000 books. In Springfield, we the vanquished the statistics. Our homes are filled with books. We did it!