Excited first-graders filed into the auditorium at Fairview Elementary School in Columbus Tuesday morning to receive an early Christmas gift. Representatives from My Book of Lowndes County — including Miz Claus — were on hand to distribute a brand new holiday-themed book to each child to take home for their own personal library.
My Book’s mission is straightforward: to increase literacy levels in Columbus and Lowndes County by providing access to more books. The nonprofit organization specifically supports efforts to improve kindergarten through third-grade literacy in local schools, where 70 percent of students come from low-income families, according to My Book of Lowndes County literature.
Access to books is often scarce for children growing up in reduced circumstances. That can lead to low literacy skills that often result in poor education, employment and health futures. Many will not graduate from high school, will earn low incomes and are more likely to become involved in criminal and anti-social behavior, My Book’s brochure states. Age-appropriate books in the home can foster a love of reading and improved reading skills.
My Book board member Robbie Foxx said, “We provide five to six books a year to 291 first-graders in the Columbus Municipal School District and 165 first-graders at West Lowndes Elementary School. We are also serving West Lowndes’ second- and third-graders as well this year,” added Foxx, who helped distribute books at Fairview Tuesday.
“The kids were thrilled,” said Deja Townsend, library media specialist at the elementary school. “They were very excited to get a book to add to their library at home and to share reading with their family.”
The 43 Fairview first-graders were treated to a reading from their new books by Miz Claus — Edwina Williams — who also led them in a song encouraging them to read their books with brothers and sisters at home.
My Book of Lowndes County works with school teachers and program directors in seven local schools, providing grants to purchase approximately 2,500 books per year that can be incorporated into academic activities and go home with the children. The number of books purchased is determined annually by contributions received. A tax-deductible gift of $25 purchases a new book for 10 children. A donation of $125 purchases books for 50 children. Gifts of $2,000 to $5,000 will help sponsor an entire school.
Schools currently served include Cook, Fairview, Franklin, Sale, Stokes-Beard and West Lowndes Elementary schools, as well as Columbus Middle School’s eighth-grade WILL program.
Donations to My Book of Lowndes County can be made through the CREATE Foundation online at createfoundation.com. Checks made payable to CREATE Foundation and designated for My Book-Lowndes County may be mailed to CREATE Foundation, P.O. Box 1053, Tupelo, MS 38802.
For more information about My Book, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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