Scholastic Helps Schools Distribute More than 1.5 Million Books to Kids for Summer Reading

NEW YORK, NY — June 7, 2010 — As schools nationwide struggle with tight budgets, some innovative school districts have developed a low-tech strategy for keeping their students’ reading skills sharp this summer. They are giving them books!

With help from Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL), the global children’s publishing, education and media company, schools in districts across the country are distributing more than 1.5 million books to students before they leave for vacation, and arming parents with advice on how to help sustain children’s reading development even when school is out.

The school districts are bundling packets of 8- to 12-books for their students – many of them from low-income households that are less likely to have books at home. Research shows that these students are more likely to fall behind during the summer. In many cases, these packs – free to the students – are combined with letters from superintendents or principals and suggestions on reading aloud and book discussions for parents. Some districts are even holding training sessions to coach parents on how to encourage and support reading and literacy at home. Many of these schools purchased the heavily-discounted summer book packs using their federal Title I funds.

"We know from research that summer reading is critical for students to maintain their skill level beyond the school day and school year, and those students who read four or more books during vacation fare better on tests in the fall than those who don't," said Greg Worrell, President of the Scholastic Classroom and Library Group. "Sadly, countless children do not have access to quality, engaging books at home. So, Scholastic is proud to make them available to districts across the country as they seek to level the playing field, ensuring that every one of their students will have collections of books to read this summer, and helping parents understand the important role they play in encouraging a love of reading."

Combating loss of skills in the summer with books is backed up by the research of Richard Allington, Professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and author of the report "Ameliorating Summer Reading Setback among Economically Disadvantaged Elementary Students" (2007). According to Dr. Allington, "A long history has shown that summer reading setback is a primary source of the reading achievement gap."

In his findings, Allington notes that "when children are provided with 10 to 20 self-selected children's books at the end of the regular school year [to take home and read during the summer months], as many as 50 percent not only maintain their skills, but actually make reading gains." Dr. Allington's research points out that the average cost of summer school is about $1500 per student; yet the average cost of book packs for students is about $50 per student.

Some of the school districts distributing books from Scholastic this summer include the following:

  • The Chicago Public Schools is distributing 12-book summer reading packs to 8,500 students from Title I schools. Schools are also hosting workshops for parents whose children are receiving the books.
  • The Jefferson County Public Schools, the biggest district in Colorado, is distributing books to more than 9,000 students from the district’s Title I schools. Students are receiving 8-book summer reading packs, and the district will also be deploying automated phone calls in English and Spanish throughout the summer to remind parents to keep their kids reading.

"Jeffco Schools had two major goals for our Summer Book Initiative this year - to put books in the hands of every single student in our neediest schools and to authentically engage parents in supporting their children in becoming life-long readers," said Laura Munro, Executive Director of Diverse Learners for JeffCo Schools. "Our partnership with Scholastic allows our District to remove any barriers students have to summer reading and will ultimately support our Title I schools in putting a halt to the summer reading slide."

Video and b-roll from a book distribution event in Jefferson County (CO) is available for download.

For more information about Scholastic, visit our Media Room at


Tyler Reed Scholastic 212.343.6427