The first three Book ‘Em North Carolina events held in Lumberton might be a distant memory to some, but to many others it continues to affect lives and hopefully, futures.
Each year, proceeds from book sales have been evenly distributed among the Dolly Parton Imagination Library through United Way of Robeson County, Communities In Schools, Friends of the Robeson County Public Library and the Lumberton Police Department — earmarked for school-age children.
Communities In Schools has used part of the donations for its Great Leaps program, a supplemental reading program that is underway at eight elementary and middle schools in Robeson County. Volunteers meet daily with children to review phonics, site words and short stories. BENC funding has provided each participating student a grade-appropriate book to take home for summer reading. For the past three years, CIS has served hundreds of students per year with books.
Through the Great Leaps program, encouragement and positive reinforcement for mastering skills helps build self-esteem and confidence for the student. Building confidence means more participation and engagement in the classroom.
In addition to take-home books, the CIS Academy has used funding to provide classroom novels for students in grades sixth through eighth. Each child receives a copy of the same novel to use in classroom work, including assignments for reading aloud and reading comprehension. CIS has provided approximately 1,000 books for this purpose.
Schools that have benefited from Book ‘Em North Carolina funding include CIS Academy Charter School, West Lumberton Elementary, Long Branch, Fairmont Middle, Fairgrove Middle, Green Grove Elementary, Townsend Middle, Union Elementary, and R. B. Dean. In all, 1,750 students have received books through funding raised at the annual Book ‘Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair.
CIS Academy students have also become involved with the event itself. They have volunteered in The Children’s Corner and after this year’s event, they developed a plan for volunteering in the 2015 event to be held on Feb. 28 at Robeson Community College in Lumberton. Their suggestions include reading to younger children, face-painting and assisting with arts and crafts. When they aren’t busy with their volunteer activities, they’ve also enjoyed meeting individual authors and sitting in on panel discussions.
With the funding for CIS alone having an effect on 1,750 students and counting, Book ‘Em North Carolina lives and thrives throughout the year, well beyond the one-day annual event. In future columns, I’ll be discussing how funding has also affected lives through contributions to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library of Robeson County, the Friends of the Robeson County Public Library and the Lumberton Police Department’s outreach to students. To date, $27,600 has been donated to increase literacy in Robeson County.
Columnist p.m.terrell is an award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 18 books in four genres and the founder of Book ‘Em North Carolina.