By Barbara Hagen • November 27, 2023
As avid readers, most of us can remember the time, and even the book, that led us to fall in love with reading. It may have been a picture book read to us by a parent, or a required reading novel from an elementary school teacher, perhaps even a book we discovered through a book club with friends. No matter when or where, we had a moment.
Today’s children are, unfortunately, having fewer of these moments. Devices, screen time, social media, all consume their time and attention. Add to these distractions the fact that access to books for kids is more limited than in years past, especially in underserved areas where community library closings are all too common and school libraries are lacking.
Recent data released since the COVID-19 pandemic began shows an even bleaker story: As a society, we are losing the reading battle with our Fourth Graders. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress*, 2022 findings show that more than 2/3 (68%) of Fourth Graders are not proficient in reading, an increase from 2019. State level numbers can be even worse, with some states spanning up to 79% of students below reading proficiency.
Why the focus on Fourth Grade?
Fourth Grade is a pivot point in a child’s reading readiness journey. It is the time when children move from "learning to read" to "reading to learn." If a child is not reading proficient by fourth grade, they are more likely to engage in high-risk behavior during adolescence and more likely to drop out of high school. This then has an impact in their long-term future success. The issue is a national priority, and the US government has even set a public health objective to improve fourth-grade reading proficiency by 2030.
To see improvements by 2030, we must begin now.
ThriftBooks, through our ThriftBooks Cares program, has always prioritized donating books into communities across the country. Today, Giving Tuesday, is a day where we more publicly share our community involvement and impact and allow all of our customers to be a part of it as well.
For this year’s Giving Tuesday, we are highlighting our partnership with Book Drive for Kids, a non-profit organization based in the Dallas, TX area. Book Drive for Kids is not a new partner with us. We first met Book Drive for Kids in our donation partnership with Orion Jean and his Race to Kindness 500,000 book drive. ThriftBooks donated 300,000 books to Race to Kindness and we partnered with non-profit organizations across the country, including Book Drive for Kids, to help distribute these books into the hands and homes of children everywhere. In my 2021 Giving Tuesday blog, I highlighted the impact that Book Drive for Kids has made and continues to make in their communities. As one of their Circle of Commitment sponsors, ThriftBooks provides donations of children’s books which they then distribute to thousands of schools and children. Additionally, our 2021 Giving Tuesday monetary donation was beneficial in their ability to further expand their program to new areas. Their success is infectious, and we want to be a part of it again!
Today we will be donating 1% of our net revenue to Book Drive for Kids to put towards their programs in schools. Specifically, programs we will be sponsoring with this donation are Free Book Fairs in the local schools. What does this mean? These Free Book Fairs are indeed book ownership events as children choose the free books they want to take home. The events create excitement about reading! Children make their selections and then even have the chance to write their name on a bookplate, sealing the concept that those books are now "theirs."
"The smile on the child's face who selects a book of their own, many for the very first time, is priceless! ThriftBooks' generosity has accelerated our goal to get more books into the hearts and homes of low-income families."—Michelle Cook, Co-Founder & Executive Director at Book Drive for Kids
Your purchase on ThriftBooks.com today is a direct contribution to our sponsorships of upcoming Free Book Fairs with Book Drive for Kids. A book purchased means many more donated. Donated books mean more books into the hands of children and maybe, just maybe, that will be the book which causes them to fall into love with reading. That love for reading will help that child improve their reading skills and be less likely to succumb to the statistics of being below grade level in reading proficiency. Studies show that strong reading skills can contribute to kids doing better in school and lower the odds of dropping out of high school, which in turn increases their chance for future success. All that could potentially start with just one book.
From all the kids who have been, and will be, positively impacted through Free Book Fairs and other community donations from Book Drive for Kids, and from all of us on the ThriftBooks team, a resounding Thank You to the ThriftBooks community for your support on this important day.
Books CAN change lives. And it can begin with us.
About the Author: Barbara Hagen is the Vice President of Marketing and Sales here at ThriftBooks. She has more than 20 years of experience as a senior marketing executive, with an undergraduate degree in marketing from Syracuse University, an MBA in international marketing from NYU's Stern School of Business, and an MS in data analytics, also from NYU's Stern School.