Reading and Summer Go Together Like Peanut Butter and Jelly

Voiced by Amazon Polly

Communities across our state celebrated both Summer Learning Week and Grade-Level Reading week in July. From block parties to book mobiles, NC Campaign for Grade-Level Reading communities have been busy ensuring that children have books of their own and are reading where ever they go this summer.

By the numbers:

  • 264: Children participated in “Paws for Reading” across Johnston County
  • 363: Books distributed at Read to Grow’s “Paws for Reading” program
  • 2,700: Children receiving books from Grow Moore Readers in Moore County
  • 18: Reading Stations across Moore County
  • 9,100: Children’s home libraries expanded through WAKE UP and Read’s partner school and childcare center distributions in Wake County
  • 72,800: Books shared at WAKE Up and Read’s distribution program
  • 94: Bikes and helmets, along with 140 books, given to kids at Read Wayne’s Books, Bikes and BBQ
  • 2,500: Attendees at Book Harvest’s Annual Block Party in Durham
  • 3,600: Books distributed at Book Harvest’s Block Party in Durham

Highlights from NC Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s Summer Initiatives

Paws for Reading Smithfield Park in Johnston County

Read to Grow in Johnston County 

Read to Grow, by the Johnston County Partnership for Children, hosted ten “Paws for Reading” programs at housing authorities, libraries, parks and community feeding sites. At each event, children received a pet dog – a stuffed animal – and signed a certificate promising to read to their pet 20 minutes every day. Children named their pets and went home with a free book, pencil, bookmark and a flyer for their parents. Local celebrities came out to read including mayors, a town council member, doctor, elementary school principal, author, and even Miss Teen Benson!

See more photos of the event on Read to Grow Johnston County’s Facebook page

Growing Moore Readers in Moore County

For three weeks in the summer, you can find Growing Moore Readers’ Reading Stations across Moore County. Reading Stations were set up at a Section 8 apartment complex, the Boys & Girls Club, local parks and splash pads, playgrounds, an ice cream stand, elementary schools, child care facilities, and community centers.

At these sites, books were available for children from birth to age 13 and they took home a Parent’s Guide to Brain Building.

The Guide shares information about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, Moore County Libraries, Make Way for Books, the Barbershop Literacy Initiative and more.

Families were encouraged to read together at the Reading Stations. 

Over 60 volunteers and 30 interns worked at the Reading Stations, helping families pick out appropriate books to take home. Most volunteers return each year to participate.


WAKE UP and Read

The Wake County Public Libraries are an essential partner of WAKE UP and Read. This year, the library system was recognized by the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for playing a key role in the local campaign.

During the pandemic when schools and libraries were closed, WAKE UP and Read wanted to be sure children were still able to access books. That’s how Grab, Go and Read was born – creating books bundles for no contact pick up by families across the County.

The library system organized a book drive and curated book bundles to help sustain Grab, Go and Read! Coalition partners continue to distribute bundles with furniture, diapers, meals, technology, and more. Volunteers and partners take the bundles to community events at locations such as parks and museums.  During the summer, a book mobile travels across the county, helping WAKE UP and Read increase access to books and book ownership. 

Wake County ABC Craft and Learn
Wake County Bookmobile

Read Wayne

If you know what barbecue means to North Carolina, you know that Books, Bikes and BBQ is sooo North Carolina! To kick off the National Book Foundation’s Book-Rich Environments (BRE) initiative in Wayne County, community partners gave away 94 bikes, 100 helmets, and approximately 140 books.

That’s just one example of how Read Wayne’s collaborative engages children and families to read all summer long. And this year, the Wayne County Public Library was recognized by the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for its role in Read Wayne.

Read Wayne also worked with the Housing Authority of the City of Goldsboro to deliver BRE for summer book distribution in public housing communities. Read Wayne also hosts Guys Read, a fun and interactive program designed to keep boys ages 6-10 engaged with reading and literacy experiences.

Wayne County Summer Learning Library
Wayne County Summer Learning outdoor activity station
Read Wayne volunteers handing out books
Books, Bikes, and BBQ

To support parents in meeting their family’s aspirational goals, the library has provided digital navigation services at a newly opened Early Head Start. The center was built through a partnership with United Way of Wayne County and the Wayne Action Group for Economic Solvency.

Through grant funding, the library supported this project by bringing affordable high-speed internet to the community of Dudley and situating a hot spot in the center’s parking lot. Additionally, the library was able to furnish the parent learning center and to hire a digital navigator to increase the parents’ digital literacy skills.

Book Harvest

The Durham Bulls Athletic Park concourse was turned into a Block Party on July 16, hosted by Book Harvest and 26 community partners. The annual event brings families together for a joyful celebration of books. With 75 volunteers strong, the Block Party featured entertainment, activities and free, culturally inclusive books for every child – from infants to high schoolers – who chose their very own books to take home and keep forever.

Families looking through Book Harvest collections.
Book Harvest staff standing and smiling behind the Book Babies display table.
Book Harvest staff

Continuing the Summer Literacy Growth

Schools may be on extended breaks, but the learning – and the reading – doesn’t stop. Reading is connecting stories and knowledge for nourishment to those growing brains, just as those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches help nourish those growing bodies. We are so inspired by the creativity in community outreach from our Campaign for Grade-Level Reading partners, and their partners, to reach children where they are, supporting them as the seasons change and busy families experience the ups and down.