For now, box upon box is stacked atop a series of pallets in a maintenance warehouse of Danville Public Schools. But soon, avid young readers can look forward to reading the contents within thanks to a state foundation’s donation of thousands of books.
“It’s extraordinary,” school Superintendent Stanley Jones said of the mega-donation Wednesday.
The Madison-based Virginia Education Foundation gave 15,578 books worth $229,358 to Danville Public Schools. The books — mostly geared toward those in grades three through seven — will be distributed among students for them to keep, said Danville schools community outreach and business partnership specialist Anne Moore-Sparks.
“We’re delighted to do it,” said George Beker, founder and director of the foundation. “The goal is to get good books with good art and good verbiage in the hands of children as early as we possibly can.”
The foundation, which Beker started about two years ago, focuses on donating books to school systems with large concentrations of low-income students.
“The goal is to enhance children’s literacy, school readiness, grade-level reading and school success,” he said.
No local money had to be paid for the books, though the school system did have to cover the roughly $1,000 cost for shipping, Moore-Sparks said.
Included in the donation are about 55 children’s titles such as “Bravest Princess,” “Doubleborn,” “Kitty’s Magic,” “Magical Animal Rescue,” “Bad Mermaids Make Waves” and others.
“I’m just thrilled that they thought of this,” Jones said. “We certainly appreciate the generosity.”
Giving the books to the students is part of larger “Read Across America” initiative by the National Education Association.
Read Across America Day, held on March 2, is a celebration of reading. March is National Reading Month.
“Every school will celebrate in their own way,” Moore-Sparks said.
Getting books to kids — especially those in the third grade — is vital for compelling them to become interested in the written word, Beker said.
“This is the last, best hope for getting kids excited about reading,” Beker said.
The foundation works with publishers to acquire the books for donation, he said, adding that he plans to give more books to the Danville school system in the future.
Jones also hopes the donation will push parents to get their children to read.
“We hope that it will empower our students to have more literature at home and that it will encourage parents to encourage their children to read,” Jones said.
Crane reports for the Register & Bee. He can be reached at (434) 791-7987.