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KCPS students head into summer with free books through new initiative

Source: KSHB Kansas City
By Rae Daniel

May 17, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas City, Missouri is one of seven communities selected to be part of the 'My Very Own Library' initiative, where roughly 2,400 students will receive 10 free books by the end of the school year.

41 Action News shared this initiative when Benjamin Banneker students received their first set of books back in December.

Now, those students will be receiving their tenth and final book as they get ready for summer vacation.

“If you don't have a library, make one,” Benjamin Banneker 2nd-grader Kyeon Johnson said. 

That’s exactly what 8-year-old Kyeon and his classmates have been doing the past few months.

“Every couple of months we had some kids come to a book fair, and they got to pick out three books and take those home and read them,” KCPS Catalyst Fund Director Nicole Collier-White said. “For us it was just a key thing. Kids were not only reading in school but also at home.”

My Very Own Library, Scholastic, United Way of Greater Kansas City, Turn the Page and Lead to Read collaborated for this literacy effort, where more than 23,000 books have been distributed. Students have spent roughly 4.2 million minutes reading.

“The feedback from the teachers, the parents, the community members is that it's just that we're fostering literacy within the building,” Benjamin Banneker Principal Harrison Neal Sr. said. “We have groups and organizations that are willing to give back to children and help them to be successful in life.”

“I really want to be a police officer and a police officer has to read because you have to know what you're doing,” Benjamin Banneker 2nd-grader Shayionna Neely said.

“It’s been great,” Keyon said. “Because all the books I've been getting, they've been hard but they've been easy to read and I'm getting better and better at reading."

Although school’s not out for summer yet, it’s getting close, and Neal says he hopes through this initiative it will create a strong foundation for reading.

“We want to make sure we bridge that achievement gap and as students retain the information and knowledge that they gain this school year in order to do that, they have to focus on reading,” Neal said. “Even if they've never been to Egypt, they can tell you all about it because they've read about the pyramid through books.”

“These are the future leaders of Kansas City,” Collier-White said. “These are the kids that are going to grow up and be our civic leaders, be our business leaders and our entrepreneurs and idea makers and in order for them to get there, we have to encourage them now.”

In addition to Benjamin Banneker Elementary, Faxon, Garfield, Longfellow, Primitivo Garcia, Troost and Wendell Phillips Attucks elementary schools are also part of the My Very Own Library initiative.