Today's the last day...
August 13, 2017
THE READING NEVER STOPS
Have you heard of the “Summer Slide”?
It’s the tendency for students, especially those from low-income families, to lose some of the academic gains they made during the previous school year.
When children don’t practice their reading skills during the summer months, they can fall behind by the time school starts again. According to the Children’s Literacy Initiative, kids can fall as much as two years behind by 5th grade!
What the Wells International Foundation is doing about it
To combat “Summer Slide” in Houston, Texas, the Wells International Foundation (WIF) partnered with the Houston Public Library (HPL) to hold an all-day read-a-thon called People and Pajamas on June 17, 2017. It was held at the Johnson Neighborhood Library in Sunnyside.
The read-a-thon was an invitation to the public to spend a day reading with library staff and guest readers. Children were encouraged to come dressed in comfy pajamas to curl up and enjoy listening to adults reading entertaining and engaging books specifically selected for a young audience.
Kids earned a free book for every read-aloud session in which they participated and could earn up to twelve free books to build a home library. They were also encouraged to sign up for the library's Summer Reading Program to earn badges and prizes. Lunch and light refreshments were served during the day.
Sunnyside is the oldest African-American community in south central Houston. The poverty rate there is approximately 35%, much higher than the Houston average of 22%.
Most of the ~6,000 school-aged children in the area attend neighborhood schools in the Houston Independent School District, a district in which one in three students fail to read at grade level. Unfortunately, many of them have never visited their neighborhood library.
The Johnson Neighborhood Library in Sunnyside is the branch where WIF Founder and CEO, Dr. Monique Y. Wells, grew up reading. Dr. Wells moved to Paris, France in 1992 and lives there today. “I owe who I am, why I live where I live, and why I do what I do to the books I read at this branch,’ she says.
Where are we going from here?
People and Pajamas was a pilot program designed to test the feasibility of hosting a 24-hour read-a-thon called The Reading Never Stops during Summer 2018. WIF and HPL will hosting this mega read-a-thon to further increase awareness of the library as a safe and educational place for youth as well as to encourage community participation and involvement in library activities over the summer.
All participants will be registered in the Summer Reading Program to further incentivize them to read and participate in library functions.
Children from 0-18 will be invited to participate in a variety of reading adventures with staff readers, guest readers, and community volunteers. Most of the event will be open to the public, while our overnight session, “Night Owls,” will be a lock-in for pre-registered Boy/Girl Scout groups.
Youth and their families will be encouraged to read together while discovering their love of books and the library. Books and other incentives will be awarded to all participants, as will Summer Reading Program sign-up incentives.
The intent is to make The Reading Never Stops an annual summer event and to expand the program to include other underserved areas of Houston.
And we need your help to do it!
Why does this program have such tremendous and far-reaching impact?
To quote former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan:
“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development… and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right .... Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.”
To instill a love for reading in young people, particularly those in Grades K-3, is to provide an essential and invaluable tool that opens the door to increased self-worth, self-assurance, and self-improvement.
For residents of Sunnyside and similarly underserved neighborhoods in Houston, reading at or above grade level will “even the playing field” for academic and economic success.
What will the money be used for?
We intend to raise $10,000 to fund the purchase and shipping of books, marketing and promotion of the event, and the organizational and logistical support for the project:
$4000: marketing and promotion
$1800: air and ground transportation
$1500: IT support
$1000: database creation and maintenance
$500: mailing and shipping support
$200: shipping and handling
See the pie chart in the slide show for a graphic representation of these expenses.
How will we measure success?
HPL is tracking the progress People and Pajamas participants and will be able to compare results between the 2016 Summer Reading Program and the program held in the aftermath of this event. A similar tracking program will be implemented during Summer 2018 after The Reading Never Stops.
People and Pajamas coincided with the beginning of HPL’s annual Summer Reading Program and all participating youth were signed up for the program. Their involvement in the Summer Reading Program will be followed to determine whether their participation in People and Pajamas had an impact on their progress and completion of the program.
In addition, HPL will track changes in new library card applications to assess the effectiveness of the project in attracting library non-users to start using the library. We will also elicit input from participants and parents throughout the project to provide formative evaluation and guide project improvements.
Another measure of success will be the number of local celebrities and community leaders that participate in the program by promoting it and / or serving as readers during the event. They will serve as excellent role models for the children and parents who look up to them.
Eighty-eight parents and children turned out for People and Pajamas, and many families stayed at the library for the entire day. We have every reason to believe that The Reading Never Stops will attract even larger numbers of attendees and positively impact the reading activities of children next summer.
Yes, you can! (What your support means to you and to our cause)
Macy’s and CrowdRise are making this platform available to non-profits participating in this crowdfunding challenge. When you give $5 or more, you’ll receive an exclusive Macy’s Shop for a Cause savings pass for a Macy’s shopping event on August 10th -13th.
Here are examples of how your contribution can support our cause:
$5 can buy a book that will start or add to a deserving child’s home library.
$10 can buy two (2) books that will start or add to a deserving child’s home library.
$25 can buy five (5) books for a deserving child’s home library.
$50 can buy ten (10) books for a deserving child’s home library.
$100 can support shipping and handling of books
$250 can support creation and maintenance of the project's database
$500 can support Dr. Wells' travel from Paris to Houston to attend the event
$1000 can support marketing and promotion of the event
I’m Monique Y. Wells:
- Founder and CEO of the Wells International Foundation (WIF), a U.S. non-profit organization
- Native Houstonian and 25-year resident of Paris, France
- Avid reader
Please give generously and share the link to this page to help us reach our goal!
“There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.” ― Frank Serafini
Risks and challenges
We believe there is minimal risk associated with completing this project. We are beginning work early and have already outlined the strategy that we believe will make us successful. The only potential problems that might arise would be related to adverse weather conditions in the days prior to or on the day of the event.