Education

Some kids in Lexington don’t have books at home. Now thousands are getting them free.

Thousands of Lexington students will each be getting two free books

Students at William Wells Brown elementary school each received 2 free books at a Scholastic Book Fair. The project will deliver free books to 12,200 students attending 24 Fayette County Public Schools.
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Students at William Wells Brown elementary school each received 2 free books at a Scholastic Book Fair. The project will deliver free books to 12,200 students attending 24 Fayette County Public Schools.

A young student at Millcreek Elementary told the staff recently that she only had one book at home to read, and she was excited about a new program that will let her choose two free books to keep.

The Fayette school district is trying to raise academic achievement at several elementaries . One of the barriers for children living in poverty in Lexington is the lack of reading material in their homes, Fayette schools district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said.

But under a new initiative in the school district running through April 27, thousands of low-income Fayette County Public Schools students are able to choose two free books at a Scholastic Book Fair.

The 12,200 students attend 24 Fayette County Public Schools that qualify for the Title 1 designation. Title I is the federal program that provides additional funding for schools that serve high concentrations of students living in poverty. Teachers at those schools are getting four new books each for their classrooms, so that a total of 25,000 books will be infused into the lives of kids living in poverty in Lexington. The district’s investment in this program is about $93,000, Deffendall said.

William Wells Brown teacher Kyla Trahan said “it’s helping teachers build libraries for their classrooms” so when students finish their classwork early, they can grab a book.

William Wells Brown Elementary students at an assembly cheered when they were told they could go to a Scholastic book fair later that morning and pick out two free books.

“This is a cashless bookfair, so no books can be purchased,” Deffendall said. “The bookfairs do not include the ‘novelty items’ that schools sometimes have, like posters, pencils and erasers. Just high quality, high interest, culturally diverse books that our children can choose from and add to their home library.”

Librarian Karen Morrison said it would give children a chance to build their own home libraries: “That’s a big deal.”

Ganiya King, a six-year-old kindergarten student said she would probably find a book about animals, ”about dogs.”

Rasemioa Bell, also a kindergartener, said he would likely look for a book about sports.

Dawn Katte, who works with Scholastic Book Fairs and is teaming with the district on the project, said that people in the community such as police and firefighters and even Steve Buttleman, a bugler for Keeneland race track, Louisville’s Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, have visited various Fayette schools for the events.

Touching stories are filtering in about children whose lives are being affected by the two new books alone, said Mendy Mills, who oversees Title 1 programs for the school district.

She said a Picadome Elementary student whose first language is Chinese wrote a thank you letter saying she was excited to have books at home that she could read in English.

“She loves reading in English and all she had at home was Chinese books,” Mills said.

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