News-Sun photo by KATARA SIMMONS Best friends Emanuela Charles, 9, and Diamonia Burns, 9, each chose the book ÔMuttley' on Thursday morning so they could read together during a Reading Is Fundamental event at Fred Wild Elementary School in Sebring. The books were purchased with grant money provided by Macey's.
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published: Friday, November 09, 2012
Reading is Fundamental ... and free thanks to donation
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
SEBRING -- Macy's, the department store chain, recently provided the Highlands County school district with a Reading is Fundamental $26,000 grant.
The money was given so every public school student could be bought a book of their own to take home.
RIF has a long history. It was founded in 1966 by a group of teachers and volunteers. Within two years, helped by grant from the Ford Foundation, RIF had become a model program, dedicated to getting books to low-income students.
Since 1966 RIF has distributed more than 380 million free books.
According to the RIF website, by 1975 Congress took notice of the program's success and created the Inexpensive Book Distribution Program (IBDP) to provide matching grants.
With the economic downturn, however, Congress cut its funding of IBDP.
Since then, corporations like Macy's, Dollar General and Colgate-Palmolive, have partnered with RIF to continue the popular program.
Since 2004 Macy's has raised and given away $16 million worth of books.
At Fred Wild Elementary School Thursday morning, it was Janet Harris' fourth-grade class's turn to go to the media center, browse through books neatly scattered on library tables, and pick one to keep.
All five school district media specialists worked together to bring the books to the students, including choosing, ordering and organizing distribution of the titles, according to Debbie Wood, who led the project for the district.
The students were soon engrossed in what they were reading.
Taylor Derr, a member of Harris' class, quickly chose "Jack," part of a series of fictional stories about dogs and the people who love them. "It's good," Taylor said when asked. She added that, "It hasn't really gotten to the dog yet."
Ashian Feliciano chose an entirely different type of book. Called "Great Estimations," it has a photograph on every page with many objects arranged into designs. The idea, Ashian said, looking at the whole picture, "is to get better at estimating, at guessing how many there are."
The books come in all sizes and difficulty, are fiction or non-fiction, with subject matter and vocabulary appropriate for every age and reading level.
"My goal," said Carla Rice, one of the media specialists who organized the event, "is to get a book to 100 percent of the kids, not 95 percent."
Students who are absent the day of the distribution will get a book to take home.
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