JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Read USA will be hosting book fairs at 102 schools in Duval County and needs hundreds of volunteers to make that happen.
The Read USA STEM Book Fairs run from April 10-May 26, serving more than 52,000 children in the district.
Read USA wants to make sure every child has access to books and the freedom to choose their own books. During the book fairs, each student chooses two free brand-new books to own, and volunteers place a sticker inside the books with the child’s name on it.
“There’s something to that ownership piece and that’s what’s so special about book fairs is you’re not giving it back,” said Read USA CEO Dr. Rob Kelly. “That influences their choice too because they’re picking those books that they want to go back to.”
Kelly said the organization needs volunteers to help set up and break down the book fairs at the schools, greet the students, help them as they choose their books and place the labels inside with their names.
“Just overall set up, take down and celebrate with the kids. It’s exciting,” Kelly said.
He explained that Read USA will provide a free background check for volunteers so they can take part at the schools. He said the organization doesn’t need money or book donations -- just your time and energy!
To volunteer, go to www.readusainc.com/volunteer.
Read USA knows that some students might not have owned their own book before attending their first book fair.
“Especially right now when schools are challenged to get books reviewed and things like that, we want to make sure that we provide children with choice because when you choose books that you like and are interested in, that fuels your motivation to read. And we want kids to be excited about reading,” Kelly said.
He said some of his favorite moments are when he spots students who might be reluctant readers catch the reading bug at the book fair.
R.L. Brown Elementary School fifth grade reading coach Mrs. Nikeshia Walter said a key to helping them catch that bug is to read with your children -- even when they’re older.
“Take the time to sit and read with your child. Have them listen to you read and you listen to them read,” Walter said.
Jacksonville native Dr. Rudy Jamison, a Read USA board member, said at the end of the day the organization is about literacy.
“We want them to love and learn to read early,” he said. “It’s the most foundational and basic skill that we can have our students gain so that they are productive citizens.”