Tullahoma High School (THS) students have organized a book drive and students and community members may donate books between Jan. 8-19.
The collected books will be donated to preschools and elementary schools in February.
Organizers of the event have taken to heart Dr. Seuss’s words, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
THS students aim to offer opportunities to the youngest Tullahoma residents to fall in love with reading by providing books to local preschools and elementary schools.
One of the organizers of the event is Andrew Pravecek, a junior at THS and a member of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA).
“This program is through FBLA, and I got involved last year,” Andrew said. “I really wanted to be a part of (helping) our community and this project really opened my eyes. I really care about the future generations, and I know that these books do help.”
About 60 students are part of FBLA, with Andrew and Chloe Ray being in charge of the book drive. To let the community know about the program and encourage locals to contribute, FBLA members have created and distributed posters.
“We hope high school students and community members help out the younger kids,” Andrew said. “People can start donating Jan. 8 through Jan. 19, only throughout the school week, between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.”
Books will be accepted at the attendance office at the high school, according to Andrew.
“We aim for people to bring books for the preschool-age group,” Andrew said. “We want to help out the preschool kids and lower elementary levels because we want to be able to provide them with the means to be able to open their eyes with reading and exploring the academics.”
However, people can also bring books for other age groups, as well, added Andrew.
“We are looking for new and used books because a lot of people (have) used books,” Andrew said. “People can bring any books they would expect their children, nieces or grandchildren to read.”
After the collection process, students will organize the books, separating them by age categories and grade levels, and take them to the preschools and elementary schools in the area.
“We are going to organize the books, and then during the school day, probably at the beginning of February, we are going to get the boxes and take them to each school and give them to the administration,” Andrew said. “If we have middle school books, we are going to take them to middle schools. We usually give them to the librarians.”
Some of the books will be used at the libraries and some in the classrooms, said Andrew.
“At the preschools, if there are any extras, they can donate them to the kids,” Andrew said.
Andrew hopes the book drive this year is as successful as last year’s event.
“Last year, we collected about 945 books, with most of them donated by community members and some donated by students,” Andrew said.
Children, teachers and librarians were excited to receive the books.
“It was really nice,” Andrew said. “I got to help out to organize them last year. The outcome was great and everyone was very happy. We took them to the schools and everybody was very happy. The kids’ faces lit up because they were so happy to see the books.”
Andrew said the initiative is very important because it can nurture love for reading, thus improving children’s futures.
“Younger generations should have their eyes open to reading because reading allows them to explore the world even if they can’t physically go to some places,” Andrew said. “Reading allows them to think outside of just their bedroom, TV, or phone, and escape and further their knowledge.”
He said reading has impacted him in a positive way.
“I used to read a lot growing up, and, I believe, it did benefit me with school,” Andrew said. “All children should have the opportunity to get into reading and see where that takes them.”
The books of Dr. Seuss, and “Harry Potter” and “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series were some of Andrew’s favorite books growing up.
THS students hope to continue the annual initiative.
“We will probably continue to do that every year,” Andrew said. “This is one of the main projects we do with the community and, I believe, it’s one of our best ones because of what it brings to the younger generations.”
Read for success
Children can benefit from reading and the positive impact starts even before they can read themselves. Listening to someone reading has a beneficial effect, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Children who are read to at home have an advantage over children who are not.
Twenty-six percent of children who were read to three-to-four times a week recognized all letters of the alphabet, compared to 14 percent of children who were read to less frequently.
Children who are read frequently also learn to read, count and write more quickly.
The more types of reading materials children experience, the higher they are in reading proficiency.
According to the National Education Association, practicing reading is one of the crucial components of becoming a good reader. Young readers need to practice to recognize letters and sounds.
Benefits by the numbers
According to the Tennessee Department of Education, if children read for 20 minutes every day, they are exposed to about 1.8 million words of text every year. That is 137 new words per minute.
If families read together for 20 minutes a day, seven days a week, they get more than 120 hours of bonding time a year.
Average lifetime earnings increase by $50,000 for every year you read with your child.
Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are three-to-four times more likely to drop out in later years.
Elena Cawley may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.