Patrick Robinson
Children in Mrs. Meade's class at West Seattle Elementary got to spend some time with helpers, teachers and people from Book Trust as they were given books,(including 3-D books) to help improve their reading skills.

SLIDESHOW: Book Trust advances literacy at West Seattle Elementary

For more than 31 million children in low income families in America, books, the foundation for learning and education, are a luxury. Book Trust, an organization dedicated to bringing more books to low income children paid a visit to West Seattle Elementary School on March, 27 to distribute books and get an update on how the school is doing.

Book Trust allocates $7 per student per month so they can choose, purchase and own books of interest from Scholastic Reading Club catalogs. Teachers help students select books and place their orders. Book Trust pays Scholastic for the selections made by the participants. The school has participated in the program since 2007.

Principal Vicki Sacco explained that the program works by being interest driven. "Kids pick books that they are interested in. Whatever genre they are attracted to and having the ownership also is important. When we did this a couple of years ago, one of the kids was saying, one of the good thing was that he could bring home books and his younger brother or sister would read it when he was done with it."

The group of adults at the event gathered to talk about the importance of books and reading. "Research shows," said Sacco," that if by third grade kids are not reading sufficiently they are four times more likely to drop out."

She explained that when she came, the school had been identified as performing in the bottom 5% of schools in Washington. The state required that the district do something very drastic. They chose the Transformation Model which requires having staff sign a contract saying they are willing to stay. They brought a new principal and staff from all over the country. It was quite a process. We had three years of that federal funding and we did make a difference. We went from that 5% to last year our reading scores demonstrated the highest growth in the entire state. In Seattle, of all the public schools we showed an increase of 10% or more in every subject area, reading, writing, science and math. The same kids and same community are being served. It was just this united approach to developing a love for learning. That culture of learning to read is one thing but it's loving to read and finding reading reading as a passion and a joy. We have kids that love to learn but it starts with programs like this."

Then the guests filed into Mrs. Meade's first grade class where kids were given books and were able to spend time interacting with teachers and guests, showing their love and excitement about reading and learning.

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