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Hamtramck Academy Provides Students Access to Reading Materials Through Grab-and-Go Book Donation Box

Teachers at Hamtramck Academy came together, gathered their resources, and donated books at their food distribution location for their students to have access to. Kara Yancey, kindergarten through fifth-grade at-risk teacher at Hamtramck, has led the initiative and decided to donate books knowing their students have limited access at home. She has donated books often to Hamtramck, especially during March is Reading Month.

Yancey began donating and shared what she was doing with fellow teachers and staff, who then jumped in as well. The book donation box was shared with students via Google Classroom in hopes of encouraging students to continue their love of reading while they are learning remotely.

“​I want to ensure that all students at Hamtramck Academy have access to books!” said Yancey. “If our students do not have access to books, how are they going to read every day and keep their education fresh?”

Yancey is extremely resourceful and collects books at garage sales, through friends and family, and even at Scholastic Book Fairs to give back to students 

“I try my best to give students books that I know they will like,” Yancey explained. For instance, one of her students recently shared that she got chickens, so when Yancey was dropping off donations to the school she knew she had to drop off a book about chickens and eggs to her house.

Boxes are filled to the brim with ​books varying in grade level and were taken home for reading by students very quickly. Students were eager to get their hands on a new book!

“With libraries being closed, our students only have what is at their homes to read, and for some of our students that isn't much,” shared Korryn Wilkins, third- through fifth-grade dean at Hamtramck. Since this has started, teachers continue to add more books and let each other know so the word can spread to all students.

According to Access to Books by Scholastic, access to printed books is the key to successful reading development. They explained that providing children access to print materials improves reading performance, is instrumental in helping children learn the basics of reading, such as letter and word identification, phonemic awareness, and completion of sentences, prompts them to read more frequently and for greater amounts of time, and improves their attitudes toward reading and learning.

Alvin Ward, principal at Hamtramck, believes it is extremely important to foster and support a healthy, exciting relationship with reading for students because reading is such a beneficial way for students to improve their literacy, intellectual capacity, and their understanding of the world. “Students who consistently read can develop a love for reading,” Ward shared. “We push our students to encompass all of those attributes."

Hamtramck’s dedication to their students is evident. In February the Mackinac Center for Public Policy named Hamtramck Academy as the top school on their 2019 Michigan Context and Performance Report Card: Public Elementary and Middle School.

Ward is proud of his staff for always going above and beyond to ensure that their students are supported beyond the classroom, especially during trying times. “My staff members are always finding effective ways to motivate and enrich students' learning,” shared Ward.

Yancey knows that the single most important factor in a child's development is being read to from birth. The key is that children need to develop a love for reading to want to read. “Reading should not be a ‘chore’ or only homework,” she said. “Having a love for reading comes from picking the right books!”

Yancey lives by what James Patterson, bestselling author and storyteller, once said, “There's no such thing as a kid who hates reading. There are kids who love reading, and kids who are reading the wrong books.”   

The donation box continues to be replenished by Hamtramck teachers. Deago Robertson, lunch staff member at Hamtramck, makes sure the books are put out in the morning for students to grab when they receive their food. Not only are their bellies being fed, but also their minds!

Way to go, Hamtramck!