"it's important that kids learn big ideas from every book they read and relate that information to what they already know. Think of it like using reading comprehension skills to build a knowledge bank with every poem, story, passage or book they read, there's a main point, message, or key fact (or two) that your child learns, relates to their experiences or prior knowledge and 'banks' for future use." (Source: https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/second-grade-reading/)
Bozeman Sunrise Rotary Club (BSRC) has dedicated itself to literacy efforts in Gallatin County for many years. For at least 15 years, we have given two books to second graders, first just in Bozeman schools and now in every public and private school throughout the county. In 2020, we will give 2,800 books to almost 1,300 students 36 schools.
The importance of developing effective reading skills at an early age is well documented. That is why we purchase 50 copies each of more than 50 book titles including fiction and non-fiction to distribute in the schools.
The annual book giveaway (BGA) begins in the fall when, with the assistance of a local bookstore, we share a proposed list of titles with second grade teachers and elementary school librarians in the Bozeman School District. With their input, we develop a final list and order 2 books per student plus about a 10% overage to account for potential increases in student numbers from the fall to the spring.
In February, a team of Rotarians contact each of the schools to arrange for BGA appointments between April 1 and the last day of school. BGA kicks off in earnest in late March when we convene our annual "sticker party" where 30-40 Rotarians, family and friends place Rotary stickers inside the cover of each book. That night the books are sorted into smaller lots for each of the 36 schools and boxed for later delivery. Each school gets 2 books per second grader and a 10% margin. The leftover books are donated to each school's library. When the students select their books, a Rotarian will write their name on the sticker which also includes the Four Way Test.
From April 1 through the end of the school year, more than 90 Rotarian "slots" are needed to handle all of the BGAs. Between two and four Rotarians go to each school based on the number of students. In Gallatin County, that ranges from 1 or 2 kids in the smallest rural schools to 90 or more students in Bozeman or Belgrade elementary schools. BSRC members devote literally hundreds of hours in travel time and book deliveries to complete this project each spring.
At each school, we explain Rotary's mission before allowing the kids time to peruse the various titles prior to making their personal selections. Each kid gets one book before any kid gets a second selection "to be fair to all concerned."
In total, Rotarians donate 202 hours of service to complete this project.
BSRC projects that the 2020-21 BGA will cost $12,247 ($11,484 for books, $377 for book stickers, $236 for storage boxes and $150 for sticker party refreshments). We should note that this project would not be possible without the generous support of Country Bookshelf's owner Ariana Paliobagis who sells us the books at a 40% discount from retail. In addition, Opportunity Bank generously provides storage space and hosts the sticker party.
BSRC is requesting $5,000 for this worthy project with the club covering the remainder of the costs. Of course, any amount of money will be helpful in fulfilling this project next year.
We appreciate the district's consideration of this grant request. Thank you!