Literacy is a critical tool to support education and overall life goals for children and adults. Many programs exist in communities for pre-k and early school-aged children; providing books, especially for these age groups, is vital to literacy goals.
However, in middle school, often those programs are over, and reading is confined by school assignments or one's ability or family's ability to go to the nearest public library.
For many years, the Rotary Club of JH had a program that provided each second grader with a book in our community.
After several discussions with the school district and literacy nonprofits in town, we have found that middle schoolers, grades 6, 7 and 8, are in the most need of books.
Further research has also led our Club to discover that instead of purchasing one book for 700 students, we want to empower them to select their own book.
By allowing middle schoolers to select their book, we are enabling them to have the ability to choose a book that inspires them and mirrors their own life experience.
By choosing their book, studies have shown that children will read more, enjoy reading, and become better writers through their readings.
Trusting students to select their books allows each person to have ownership over their reading, providing motivation and encouragement that they choose what inspires and captivates them.
In a digital age that grows every year, with teenagers especially spending more time on phones and devices, instilling a love for reading is critical.
Our project would provide 700 books to our Teton County middle school students in February 2024, and we will work with our local Fund for Public Education to distribute vouchers for books and set up "book fairs" where children can purchase books.
Club members will be involved through fundraising for this project to reach our Club goal of $4,000 and through assisting our school district with implementation. Club members will also work with clubs at the middle school to design 3-4 bookmarks that will be provided to students with their books. These bookmarks will have a bottom banner for Rotary along with the student's designs. Showing our community supports each student is essential to our goal of inspiring readers and letting them know their community is behind them and wants them to succeed.