By Glen Miller | Categories Blog | January 15, 2021

It’s not enough to say that home libraries are important. We need to take it a step further and ask why home libraries are important and how we can help build your student’s home library.

Why a home library?

Let’s start with this: “Children growing up in homes with many books get 3 years more schooling than children from bookless homes, independent of their parents’ education, occupation, and class,” 20-year research study in 27 countries. That’s a three-year academic head start! The study also found that the effect is greatest on economically disadvantaged students. The Annie E. Casey foundation reports that 79% of economically disadvantaged kids are below proficient in reading by fourth grade. Compare that to the number of books found in their homes, and we have a pretty good argument for a concerted effort to build home libraries among our most vulnerable population.

Kids love to collect. They collect to own, organize, and prioritize – skills that will pay lifelong benefits. The impact of a home library is far-reaching. In fact, elementary teacher Justin Minkel found through his project called The 1000 Book Project, students who built home libraries actually transformed the family literacy culture.

Summer Slide – “The way we’ve always done it.”

I have had hundreds of discussions with educators on the best way to build a summer reading program. I learned that school districts have employed the same four ideas for many years, yet the results remain the flat 65% of fourth graders are below proficiency. These practices include:

Learning loss elimination through home libraries – BEST PRACTICE

Mailing books to kids every 10 to 14 days removes many of the hurdles mentioned above and builds anticipation while also building home libraries. Allowing kids to choose the titles in their library creates ownership. Kids Read Now provides weekly resources to parents; this makes it easy for them to engage with their kids and increase comprehension. It can be as simple as a Discovery Sheet with four questions specific to the book. These best practices are all supported in current research on mitigating learning loss like this one from The University of Wisconsin – Madison. The power of a home library cannot be understated. If you build it, they will read.


By Glen Miller | Categories Blog | November 27, 2020

Many kids survive in a “book desert” without access to books. Let’s rain books onto every child to create a book oasis instead.

Something that provides refuge, relief, or pleasant contrast.” Oh, wait… that’s an oasis. During this current crisis, many of us have spent time creating our own oasis with multiple trips to Home Depot, pouring over Pinterest, and getting a new best-seller every two weeks from Barnes and Noble.

I’ve always been able to create “pleasant contrast” by escaping through the magic of a great book. But what if you’re a second-grader living in a two-bedroom apartment on the sixth floor of a housing project in Philadelphia with your mom, 2 siblings and another family of three. There’s a TV but mom’s boyfriend is in charge of that. You’ve got the basics: food (sort of), air, water, and shelter but where are the books? There ARE no books. Nothing to read or feed your imagination. Nothing for your mind to dream about. No “refuge, relief or pleasant contrast” to your current situation. You’re surviving in a Book Desert.

The Global Book Desert Map sponsored by Unite for Literacy is a grim depiction of our current situation. It also may offer an explanation as to why 79% of low income fourth graders are not proficient in reading. (Annie E. Casey Foundation – 2020) Seventy nine percent. Let that sink in. Whose fault is this, anyway? Let’s pass a law that requires kids to read by third grade. That’ll work, right? It hasn’t yet and this idea continues. Let’s encourage mom to take them to the library and give her a robust (and costly) summer school option; we’ll even send the book bus to the housing project on Thursdays from 9 to 10. Oh, wait… we’ve been doing all of this for decades and still: 79%.

Maybe it’s time to dig deeper into why our kids are struggling. Could access and opportunity possibly have anything to do with it? Mom is working two jobs and relies on public transportation. What if access and opportunity arrived in the mailbox every 10 days? Can a mailbox really be an oasis?

Kids Read Now is committed to making this a reality. Kids create “refuge and relief” by choosing the books that will arrive each week. Mom receives a text (in her native language) with four key comprehension questions to ask. Everyone wins. Join us as we focus on rain not blame. Let’s rain books on to these Book Deserts turning them into an oasis of opportunity and possibility for every child in America, not just the lucky ones.