‘Always extremely excited’: Give a Child a Book campaign helping bridge literacy gaps

Editor’s note: This article was initially published on WXYZ.com.

For the last six years, we here at Broadcast House have been very passionate about our initiative to give back to the community. We’ve done it through a literacy campaign called If You Give a Child a Book.

With the help of United Way for Southeastern Michigan, WXYZ-TV has been working with schools in need throughout metro Detroit by getting free new books into the hands of every student.

Since its inception, we’ve donated over 50,000 books and now, we’re opening up the campaign to you to make your mark.

Life is filled with many lessons and obstacles may block your view. For a mom, the only thing sweeter than reading to your kids is listening to them read on their own.

Jessie and Jeremy Hobbs are first and fourth graders at Stevenson Elementary School, where reading ability isn’t taken for granted.

“So many students prior to the pandemic were struggling with literacy. But since the pandemic, it’s even compounded even more,” said Deandrea Rogers with United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

Nationally, one-third of children in the youngest grades are missing reading benchmarks. At Stevenson, about half of the students are in need of supplemental literacy support.

Programs aiming to arm kids with books are more needed than ever before. Over the pandemic, Stevenson has been a recipient of WXYZ’s If You Give a Child a Book campaign. Our employees donating the funds to put 10 new books into every student’s hands.

What’s unique about this program is kids actually choose the books they want to read, which data shows dramatically increases engagement, encouraging kids to read more and feel more empowered.

“Students were coming in so excited. They were picking all their books, and then they turned around and said, ‘We get to have these for free?’ And we’re like, ‘Yes,’” Rogers said. “Students plopped down on the floor reading them.”

One mom says her kids are “always extremely excited” when they come home from school with a new book and they’re more willing to push through the vocabulary roadblocks.

“Because it is a subject matter they are interested in it, there is no roadblock, they want to get through it,” mom Brittany Gardner said.

Teacher Tracey Moorehead said, “They take ownership in that like, ‘This is the book I chose.”

Experts say having that choice is what turns readers into leaders. By giving a child a book, you give them motivation and inspiration for a future without limitation.

If you would like to donate, visit our If You Give a Child a Book campaign page.