CLEVELAND — Governor Mike Dewine has extended the closure of K-12 schools until at least May 1. While Cleveland Metropolitan School District students may not be in the classroom, that doesn’t mean that reading has to stop.
Now, thanks to the Cleveland Schools Book Fund, when they pick up their free and reduced lunches at the 22 sites throughout the district, they can also choose from hundreds of books to take home.
The Cleveland Schools Book Fund is an endowed program through Cleveland State University and CMSD.
“It forever places collections of high-quality, hardback, fiction books in every one of the 766 pre-K through 4th grade classrooms in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District,” said Sharon Brown the director of the book fund.
The program also provides paperback copies of the classroom books for students to take home.
“That way we build not only classroom libraries, but we build home libraries, as well,” said Brown.
Brown said they didn’t want reading for fun to stop.
“I started to think about the fact that we had lots of books that were meant to be distributed throughout the spring months, that we're not going to be, so my thought was, let's push them out as best we can into the hands of the children and families,” she said.
CMSD, CSU, Cleveland Schools Book Fund and Scholastic all teamed together to make it happen.
Now, at each of the 22 free and reduced lunch sites, students can choose from nearly 900 books to take home with them.
Brown said she knew the program had to adapt, so that the students not only can bridge learning gaps, but for their mental health, too.
“It doesn't have to be a lesson on reading. Now, just a few minutes reading with a child and talking with them about the storybooks is such a powerful moment for the adult and the child to just have a few minutes of a peaceful time together in such a crazy world right now,” she said. “I think there’s a power to books.”