Wednesday, May 23 , 2018, 5:37 pm | Overcast 62º


Library to Host Free Book Distribution Night for Students, Families

Local authors Ellen A. Kelly and Molly Hahn will attend Thursday's event at McKinley Elementary

The Santa Barbara Public Library System will host a free book distribution at 6 p.m. Thursday at McKinley Elementary School. All second- and third-graders and their families have been invited to attend.

Each year, library staff and community volunteers visit eight local elementary schools and distribute 3,000 new books to second- and third-graders. The library receives grant funding from Reading Is Fundamental, a national nonprofit organization, to purchase the books.

Last year, the library piloted an evening book distribution program at Cesar Chavez Charter School in an effort to involve students’ families. All regular distributions occur during the day, when most parents are unable to participate.

Thursday’s event will mark the library’s second program to gather students and their families, inform them of library services, and inspire them to utilize the array of resources available to them at no cost.

The library’s Reading Is Fundamental program targets schools with a high rate of students eligible for free/reduced price meal programs because studies connect lower income rates with lower incidence of leisure reading. Using those criteria, the library is able to focus its resources on the communities most susceptible to the educational and social effects of poor literacy.

On Thursday night, the library will welcome educator and author Ellen A. Kelley to read from one of her acclaimed children’s books. Her recent book, My Life as a Chicken, was nominated as one of five titles for the California Young Reader Medal for 2009-10.

Molly Hahn, a local children’s author and illustrator, also will attend Thursday’s event. She will be drawing on an overhead projector and talking to the students and their families about her love for reading and illustrating.

Thanks to the Santa Barbara Sandman Inn, the library also will provide finger foods to students and their families.

RIF and the library realize that getting books into the hands of students is only half the battle. The key to the academic success of children lies in encouraging parents to take an active teaching role in educational development.

Organizers hope Thursday night’s event will serve as a reminder of the continued support and free resources and materials offered through the public library.

— Oscar Flores is a youth services outreach coordinator for the city of Santa Barbara.

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