PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Florida is aiming to improve childhood literacy among students who are struggling to read.
This December, the state will start delivering free, high-quality books to the homes of K-5 students who are below their expected reading level.
Known officially as the "New Worlds Reading Initiative," the book deliveries will start before Dec. 31 for the 2021/22 academic year.
“Unlike other book-delivery programs, the New Worlds Reading Initiative combines comprehensive support that aligns with the existing focus on improving teachers’ capacity to provide quality instruction,” said Phil Poekert, director of the UF Lastinger Center for Learning. “This proven approach will improve literacy acquisition and ultimately create a continuum of support for parents, teachers and students.”
A total of nine books will be delivered to students during the school year.
Books will be delivered monthly every school year from October to June.
FREE BOOKS DELIVERED📚The New Worlds Reading Initiative is completely free to eligible students and families. Each participating child will receive a hard copy book, delivered each month throughout the school year. Book delivery begins December #wptv #wflxhttps://t.co/KQTzfdtEvR pic.twitter.com/LZBqxHff7m— Linnie Supall WPTV (@LinnieSupall) November 29, 2021
Every school district in Florida will participate in the program and will identify students in need of the free books. The districts will work with local non-profit organizations to coordinate book deliveries to each child's home.
Students will be identified to receive the books if they have a "substantial reading deficiency" or scored below a Level 3 on the preceding year's standardized English Language Arts assessment.
The Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County supports the effort to expand a child’s at-home library.
“We know that many homes don't have books,” said Kristin Calder, CEO of the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County. “If students have an opportunity to take a book home or get one in the mail or bring one home from school or from one of our reading programs, they treasure that book.”
Studies show children who grow up with books in the home enjoy a substantial advantage over children who do not.
“It’s a great gift that they can keep reading over and over again,” said Calder.
Parents and guardians can visit NewWorldsReading.com to learn more and sign up for the program.