New books are a privilege given to some, but not all, American children. Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and senior honor society Mortar Board advanced the cause of literacy this past weekend with their Book Drive to benefit the children’s literacy organization, First Book.On Friday, Feb. 22 and Saturday, Feb. 23, members from these organizations sold Scholastic books in the Appleton City Center. The extra money raised beyond the cost of books was donated to First Book.
Scholastic Booksellers, whose mission is “helping children around the world to read and learn,” offers colorful books and accessories to encourage children and young adults to read. Books in Lawrence’s Book Drive included “Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late,” a book by Mo Willems about a stubborn pigeon who refuses to go to sleep. This first time event was deemed successful. Kappa Philanthropy Chair Claire Rockett said, “We’re pleased with the results. We raised over $500, which translates into over $50 in books for First Book.”
Rockett added that the collection boxes they put in local businesses were successful as well. “We’ve definitely learned from this experience and any collaboration between our two groups in the future can only benefit from this first attempt,” she said.
Mortar Board and Kappa Kappa Gamma are both committed to the cause of literacy. Mortar Board has long been involved with First Book. Kappa Kappa Gamma member Emily Gonzalez said her sorority decided to get involved because, in her words, “Kappa’s national philanthropy is Reading is Fundamental (RIF), but since there isn’t a RIF chapter in Appleton, we wanted to get involved with another literacy organization.”
First Book Fox Valley provides new books for over 300 local schoolchildren in four after-school programs in the area. With such high expectations, First Book is always looking for donations from individuals or from fundraisers like this one. With a donation of only $5, First Book can provide a young student with two new books.
Literacy organizations like First Book try to improve the poor literacy rates of American schoolchildren. According to the National Institute for Literacy, in 2000 a test of reading proficiency showed that only 24 percent of fourth graders were deemed proficient and 37 percent tested below the basic achievement level.
Following this trend, by the age of seventeen only about 1 in 17 students can read and comprehend texts needed for success in college or many careers.
First Book Fox Valley needs volunteers in the area to help with distributing books, with fundraising events and with reaching their eventual goal of expanding the program to more schools and to more areas of the Fox Valley. If you would like to volunteer or see what’s going on with First Book Fox Valley, contact them on their website at www.firstbook.org.