A local organization has received national recognition for a reading program it started to reach more children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has honored the Patterson Foundation's Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading as a Bright Spot community in 2021 for its "This Book is Cool!" program.
The virtual web series helped children continue progress toward third-grade reading proficiency throughout the summer of 2020.
In each episode, host Beth Duda talks about the featured book, highlights a word bank pertaining to the book, creates a craft and interviews a community member through Zoom.
“We are so honored to be recognized as a Bright Spot community,” Duda, who also is the director of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, said in a press release. “I’m grateful for The Patterson Foundation’s support, the enthusiasm and skill of all our engagement team members and the commitment of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s partners for coming together during an unprecedented time to start ‘This Book is Cool!’ and ensure children, particularly from asset-limited families, are able to stay engaged and continue learning.”
The national campaign recognized 54 communities across the United States as Bright Spots for developing innovative grade-level reading efforts, particularly those that could be replicated in other communities and sustained after the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to the web series, the Patterson Foundation provided up to 20 free books featured in the web series to qualifying students. In 2020, more than 1,000 children received free books through the program.
More than 5,300 children participated in the program and together read nearly 100,000 books.
“This Book is Cool!” is back again for summer 2021 and registration is already underway.