Our students come from poverty and trauma so we try to offer experiences that enrich their lives and this grant seems a perfect way to expand our offerings. We would benefit by having the opportunity to involve our students in activities that expose them to the wide array of reading experiences through books and authors. Our population does not get many cultural experiences and many don’t own books or visit the city library regularly.”
-Barre City Elementary School, Barre, VT
(Year of the Book recipient, 2019-2020)

Does this sound familiar? Schools in many high-poverty and rural communities in New Hampshire and Vermont struggle to meet their students’ needs and offer enriching literacy experiences to help them fall in love with reading and writing. This is a problem, as 62-63% of NH and VT students read and write at below-proficient levels (even higher for low-income students), putting them at greater risk of struggling in school or even dropping out.

CLiF’s Year of the Book grant – $25,000 in literacy programming and new books – aims to help schools supplement their literacy programming, increase students’ enthusiasm for reading and writing, provide print-rich environments in school, in the community, and at home, and increase family engagement in children’s literacy development. The Year of the Book grant infuses communities with literacy experiences for the whole family and TONS of new, high-quality children’s books tailored to students’ interests and needs. Teachers and librarians select new books for classrooms, the school library, and the local public library, plus each student gets to choose TEN new books for themselves throughout the year. Many of the children we serve have few or even no books at home, so the opportunity to accrue their own personal library of books they picked themselves is kind of a big deal.

The CLiF Year of the Book includes many author visits and workshops with the 65+ authors, illustrators, poets, graphic novelists, and storytellers we work with, free family events with storytelling, discussions on reading together, and new books to choose, mini-grants for classroom teachers to tie literacy into other areas of their curricula, and special programs designed by the school. The grant allows flexibility for schools to bring exciting programming that meets their students’ needs and interests.

Schools have chosen projects like field trips to theater performances, visits from wildlife programs to connect literacy to science units, creating comfy book nooks in school, and building puppet theaters to act out stories. One school even had hot air balloon rides to tie into their theme of “SOAR into Reading!”

Here’s what educators had to say about the Year of the Book:

“CLiF programs do indeed impact lives. I can honestly say that the Year of the Book affected the Wentworth students by instilling a curiosity, a passion, a hunger for reading, writing, and stories. They became empowered.”
-Wentworth Elementary School, Wentworth, NH

“I can see these [author] visits are making long lasting memories for our students.”
-Eden Central School, Eden, VT

“The children at Dr. Crisp are so excited to receive books they can keep for their very own! We are very fortunate to have been chosen for this wonderful opportunity!” 
-Dr. Norman W. Crisp Elementary School, Nashua, NH

“Being a recipient of the $25,000 Year of the Book grant has opened many doors to literacy for our children. Author and illustrator visits helped our children to realize the accessibility of words and the power that they possess. Receiving ten brand new books has put books into the homes of children who previously didn’t have books.”
-Bethlehem Elementary School, Bethlehem, NH

CLiF is now accepting applications for the Year of the Book grant for the 2020-2021 school year. Applications are due January 29, 2020, so get them in ASAP! Call Meredith at (802) 244-0944 with any questions.

See the Year of the Book in action!

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