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Governor's Early Literacy Foundation book delivery program returning for second year

The program delivers books to students in kindergarten through third grade to combat pandemic-related learning loss and the "summer slide."

TENNESSEE, USA — A program that provides students, teachers and families with resources to support learning will continue for a second year, according to officials.

The Governor's Early Literacy Foundation works to prevent "summer slide" learning loss. As students spend time away from school, their proficiencies in reading, writing and mathematics can fall. So, the foundation has organized many programs to ensure students retain what they learned during the school year.

One of those programs delivers books to kindergarten through third-grade students. It will be returning for a second year, according to officials, after beginning as a summer reading pilot in 2020.

It provides more than 30,000 students in 36 school districts with books and resources delivered to their homes over the summer.

The program was organized in partnership with Scholastic and Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. Participating school districts were chosen based on counties' "distressed" or "at-risk" designations by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

State education leaders said only 33% of Tennessee third-graders are proficient in reading, and the program hopes to change that.

"This year, it's more important than ever with COVID-19," said Mary Pom Claiborne with the Knox County Public Library. "It's way more than the 'summer slide,' it's just been a disruptive year. There are a lot of programs out there to help kids and families stay engaged."

The program is free to participate in, and families don't even need to sign up for it. The books are delivered to qualifying homes and will continue to be delivered during the upcoming year.