The Reading Action Program began in 2012 and became a 10-year commitment to increasing literacy rates around the world. Lions everywhere participate by donating books to local schools and libraries, reading to children, starting programs that encourage parents to read with their kids, and more. Thank you to Past District Governor Beverly Nichols of District 17-O in Kansas, USA, for sharing the information for today’s post on her district’s Reading Action Program book distribution efforts and results!
When Lions Clubs International announced the partnership with Scholastic, Inc. at the USA/Canada Lions Leadership Forum in Kansas last year, the Lions of District 17-O in northeast Kansas were delighted to be the recipients of a US$5,000 seed grant from LCIF for a Reading Action Program initiative in their district. The money was to go toward high quality books purchased at a reduced price from Scholastic.
In addition to providing books for children, the district’s Reading Action Program would help determine what kind of distribution process would be most effective.
Lions identified several venues for distributing books:
- Schools (including preschool programs within the schools)
- Libraries (and children who attended story hour)
- Head Start programs
- Vision screening events
When selecting sites, the Lions looked for areas with high incidence of low income and a nearby Lions club that would support efforts, both through contributing additional funds and by providing a Lions’ presence at distribution events. Schools selected represented rural, urban and suburban locations.
The original grant of $5,000 was increased by almost 50% through contributions from local Lions Clubs, through district fund raisers, and from the Kansas Host Committee of the USA/Canada Lions Leadership Forum. With these funds, a total of 3,779 books were purchased and distributed.
Determining the most effective distribution process raised the question of just what is meant by “effective.” Is it providing the greatest impact on a single child? Or is it providing books to as many individual children as possible? Is it creating as much publicity as possible for the work of Lions in a given community?
All of these are worthwhile goals. However, nothing can match the excitement that is generated when a child is able to pick a book for his or her very own. Ultimately, it makes no difference if it is one book or several, in a school setting or after a vision screening.
The greatest impact on a single child occurred in a small school setting. The same dollar amount, when allocated to a small school and a larger one, means that children in the smaller school may receive multiple books rather than just one book per child. In smaller communities, local newspapers are likely to run stories and pictures about the event, and word of mouth is very effective in small towns.
The best venue for reaching the maximum number of children while building community recognition probably came in conjunction with vision screening. Each child gets a single book, but there may be more than one book given to a single household. Single copies of bargain books can be purchased from Scholastic at just a dollar each. This enables the purchase of many more books than books purchased in a collection. Collections provide a variety of books and are preferred by school personnel, as books can be selected to fit reading levels of students within a given class.
No matter which venue was used during book distributions in northeast Kansas, students receiving the books were excited to receive them. Lions involved in the process took great delight in seeing the reaction of students on the receiving end.
Learn more about the Reading Action Program. How does your club address literacy in your community?