Imagine settling into your recliner to crack open a favorite book. As the scent of the dog-eared, well-worn pages hits you, can you remember the pride you felt after finishing your first book? For nearly 20 years, Book Trust has ignited that spark of lifelong learning by teaching children to love reading. Kids with little to no access to books choose stories based on their interests, and often they can hardly contain their excitement as they hug the new additions to their personal libraries. Says Tiffany Kuehner, Book Trust president & CEO, “We can all relate to that feeling with a brand-new book. Books have always been an important part of my life. As a child, they were my escape, my magical safe places where I could travel the world and let my imagination take flight.” We talked with her about Book Trust’s mission to empower children to find a sense of comfort between a book’s covers while allowing them the freedom to practice making their own choices.
Cultivating a culture of history
Last year, the teacher-led, student-driven program provided almost 1 million books to more than 55,000 students nationwide, 22,000 of whom live in Colorado. “Every month of the school year, students choose books from their Scholastic pamphlet, then teachers place the order and help celebrate the book box’s arrival,” says Kuehner. “Some teachers will dress up as a book fairy and giftwrap each book. Or they make it a ‘Flashlight Friday,’ during which kids read in the dark under the covers.” To keep the culture of literacy alive and well, “they spend dedicated time in the classroom sharing with their peers, celebrating, and taking ownership of the books. We give a tremendous amount of literacy coaching and tips to teachers throughout the entire year in addition to providing resources for family engagement.”
The power of choice
“The choice component is the secret sauce of our program. By choosing what they want to read, children develop their own likes and dislikes to gain a sense of who they are as readers. Also, giving kids the power to stop reading a book when they don’t like it is a fun way to practice boundaries. There’s no benefit to continue, especially at that age. Allow their interests to take the lead and let them feel like they’re in that driver’s seat.”
Parents can help
“The routine aspect of consistently giving kids chances to practice choice at home and in the classroom is important. Even just by allowing them to choose what books to read at night can make it fun and celebratory. Whether it’s reading your own book while your children read theirs, reading while you’re cooking, or reading outside with a flashlight, just try to engage children in a fun way. That quiet time together between child and parent is really important.”
It takes only $100 to fund each child’s books for the entire year. Making a donation on behalf of a loved one is a great way to celebrate the holidays.
Provides books to kids