Now is the Time. Memphis is the Place.

Kids Made a Book Wish List—Memphians Can Make it Happen!

Hundreds of students told their librarian exactly what they want to read next—and now a local organization is bringing those books to the building! 

The bad news first: kids in Memphis are struggling to read on grade level, and the pandemic didn’t help. Good news now: Memphians are stepping up to make a difference for these kids. How are Memphians stepping up? By volunteering to read with kids, by mentoring, and by giving gifts that can help these kids make some literacy leaps. 

Anne Pitts, Director of Give901, shared what Give901 is doing to build literacy in Memphis, “These are intelligent kids with great teachers; they’ve just been faced with a lot of challenges. We want to make sure those students have every advantage moving forward—and a big advantage when you’re developing reading skills is having a book in your hands that is exactly what you want to read.”

To make this happen for a few hundred young Memphians, Give901 has partnered with Grizz Prep, the all-boys charter school downtown, where librarian Jane Oliver is putting all her energy into helping the young men at the school fall in love with reading.

The boys at Grizz Prep are falling in love with reading, due in large part to their librarian’s efforts to stock the library with books they love. Give901 will help get more of those books to more of these boys!

“We know that kids make strides in reading comprehension when they have a choice in what they’re reading. So for this project with Give901, I surveyed our students to see what they’re excited about reading next. I heard from a lot of students who are fired up to read manga (Japanese graphic novels) and many of our students are looking forward to the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Now, when they see those books arrive from Give901, they will absolutely be excited to keep reading.”

Ms. Oliver also shared that the library is fighting to come back to full strength because many books were lost over the pandemic—about 600 books had been checked out when schools shut down, and many of those were lost or damaged in the year before schools reopened. The librarian is bouncing back from that and building a library that is a reader’s dream for the young men of Grizz Prep, with part of their library housed in an actual vault (the school was once a bank) and a separate library just for the 8th graders. 

Give901 has kicked off Project: Grizz Prep Reads to help every child at Grizz Prep have the chance to read something that they love! Starting now, they’re inviting Memphians to give $25 or more to build that book bank and send hundreds of kids home for the holidays with books in their hands—books they helped choose, books they’ll actually read, books that’ll keep them learning.


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