The Rapidian

Read 'N Give coordinates reading literacy initiative in over 60 schools

The reading literacy program incorporates a new twist to literacy initiatives: service learning in the classroom. Students learn the joy of giving back to others by donating books.
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Get involved with Read 'N Give:

Visit their website here

or call them at: 616-233-5549

Crossroads Middle school is one of over 60 schools, local businesses, nonprofits and individuals partnering with Read 'N Give to collect gently used books for the purpose of gifting them to schools in need. Once the books are collected they are distributed to organizations such as Schools of Hope, The Salvation Army, and Camp Blodgett to use in their reading programs in local schools.  

Middle schoolers are getting excited about giving back to the community, says Kathy Vogal, teacher at Crossroads Middle School, part of the Northview school district.

"The kids are excited about sharing the love of reading with others. They can see how powerful that is," says Vogal. 

Read 'N Give is an initiative sponsored by Crowe Horwath and enacted through The League Michigan. The goal is to not only increase reading literacy and meet the need for quality books, but also to promote service-learning and philanthropy education in the schools who are partaking in the book drive. 

The book collection continues through the end of March. The goal is to have at least 70,000 books donated within the month. Ben Ruehrdanz, a member of The League Michigan explains how this is a whole community effort. 

"This is so big because it's not just through one school. It's through all the schools we can reach, through businesses and individuals, anyone can participate," he says. "If you have books you want to donate, we'll take them." 

Ruehrdanz also emphasizes how easy the process of donating books can be. 

"Just call us," he says, "we will figure out the closest drop off location for you, and if needed we'll even come to your house and pick them up."

Vogal agrees that it's the efficiency of the Read 'N Give program that has kept their school a part of the program for four years. 

"Without The League Michigan doing the behind the scenes work, I'm not sure if we would have been able to embrace service-learning in the way we have been able to," she says. "We've been very fortunate to partner with them." 

Bridget Knight, a member of The League Michigan, explains how the process works in schools.

"The give part of Read 'N Give comes into play when a sticker is placed into each book that is donated. Whoever is giving the book will write in their name. Then the child that receives the book will not only get to enjoy it, but also learn the value of giving back by re-donating the book in order to get a new one to read," she says. 

"They are really learning the idea of 'paying it forward,'" she adds. 

The stickers that are placed in the books along with bookmarks and posters have all been donated by River Run Press. Vogal says that having these resources prepared and available has made implementing the program into her classroom very easy and effective. 

The bookmarks that are supplied also serve a special purpose, says Ruehrdanz.

"For schools whose demographic is unable to donate books to Read 'N Give, we have created a bookmark system as a way to get them involved," he says.

"In some classes once a student completes a book they are then able to color a bookmark as a reward - but then this bookmark is donated to be given away with the books collected."

"All of the students are able to experience giving back and paying it forward," says Knight. 


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