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Turning pages to boost literacy; Riley Elementary promotes reading thanks to ABC 27 book campaign

Posted at 11:24 AM, Jan 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-23 11:24:42-05
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Turning pages to spark imagination right here in our neighborhood.

Last time I was at Riley Elementary, I told you about their new C grade they'd received from the Florida Department of Education and their plans to grow as a school. Now, I'm finding out how fostering a love of reading is playing a role in helping them achieve these goals.

"Whenever you're bored you can just read something. And I like to play class, so I read it to my class," said Queen, a student here.

They love reading so much that even their imaginations are centered around the classroom.

That's a love their strengthening with the help of books they're picking up this week thanks to Scripps and ABC 27's "If you Give a Child a Book" Campaign.

Gladys Calloway, Academic Dean, said these books enable them to build their own library at home, strengthening the connection between home and school.

"They're able to choose books and read on a daily basis," said Calloway.

Candace Gautney, Assistant Principal, explains why it's important a love for reading exists outside of the classroom.

"We know that if kids are on grade level reading, they're going to be successful later on," said Gautney.

She said that is often difficult for some families to sustain in the 32304 zip code.

"It's not that they don't want their kids to have books, but sometimes they just don't have the funds to do it," said Gautney. "If we can provide this for them, it's just one extra thing we can do to help them out."

Gautney and Calloway said families an also source help from their own after school programs and external organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club. Callways said a lot of their students attend this club.

I visited Kacy Dennis, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Bend.

It's an after school program provides enrichment opportunities for kids age 6 to 18. Dennis said their partnership with the Tallahassee Housing Authority means they can be in places, like our neighborhood, that need the support.

"Those kids all know they have the support of a positive mentor in their lives," said Dennis.

He said this figure is key in the development of kids.

"We can all think back upon our childhoods, when we think about that one positive adult, that one mentor, that one teacher that truly changed your life," said Dennis.

He said that's the support they can provide outside of school time. Their enrollment is open. I'll leave sign-up information on my web story.

Schools all across Florida, including Riley, are currently celebrating the Florida Department of Education's literacy week. This year's theme is "Believe in your shelf" Building Resiliency through Reading.