At the Children’s Literacy Foundation (CLiF), our work revolves around inspiring children to feel joy and excitement about reading and writing. Among the ways we accomplish this goal is through our flagship program, CLiF’s Year of the Book, one of our nine literacy programs.
Awarded annually to 10 schools in Vermont and New Hampshire, the Year of the Book is a $25,000 grant that provides selected schools with interactive visits from authors, illustrators, poets and storytellers; new books for the school and public libraries; family literacy events; writing workshops; and many additional literacy resources over the course of the school year.
As far as the students are concerned, the most exciting part of the Year of the Book program may be the 10 books each child gets to choose and keep. For many of the children served by CLiF, books are a luxury item their families can not easily afford. The books they select for themselves at CLiF events may be the only reading materials they have outside of school.
“CLiF’s Year of the Book program has a proven track record of creating a culture of literacy within a school community,” CLiF program manager Cassie Willner said. “The excitement that comes from new ideas, new books and new connections makes this an invigorating grant for schools, and also for CLiF. This grant provides New Hampshire and Vermont’s under-resourced children and communities with much-needed literacy support, author/illustrator visits, and new books to inspire joy around reading.”
Since the program began in 2011, the Year of the Book has made a sizable impact across the Twin States, with a total of 100 sponsorships worth a collective $2.5 million awarded to Vermont and New Hampshire schools. Our Year of the Book schools consistently report positive and rewarding program results.
“[Year of the Book] returned literacy to the central focus again in our school,” one educator recalled. “It allowed us to re-establish the importance of reading at home. It gave our students the opportunity to travel the world vicariously through visiting authors and the many books they chose. The importance and power of self selecting titles as opposed to giving reading level only choices was witnessed by all staff.”
Another educator told CLiF how the program helped students to recognize the significance of their own stories and their ability to write them.
“One really important message that [students] have taken away is that they have stories from their life that are worth writing about and are great stories. A great book starts with a pet or with an old family story. An author can be anyone.”
When the Year of the Book program concludes at the end of a school year, it leaves behind lasting enthusiasm around literacy and continued opportunity for community growth.
“The program is a bit like a chain letter,” CLiF Executive Director Duncan McDougall said. “CLiF provides each school with the ability to craft and use their $25,000 in literacy support in the way that fits their unique needs. Each year, we bring staff members from past and present Year of the Book schools together for a CLiF Community Literacy Conference, which gives educators a chance to learn from and share creative ideas with their peers.”
CLiF is currently accepting applications for our 2023-2024 Year of the Book program. To learn more about the eligibility requirements and application process, click here. The deadline to apply is March 1, 2023. Please contact CLiF program manager Cassie Willner with any additional Year of the Book questions.
All CLiF’s programs are made possible by the generosity of our donors, and we are proud to be a community-supported organization. For ways to support the Year of the Book and CLiF’s other literacy programs, please click here.