The annual Bookcase Project is one of our most prominent community partnerships at the Faulkner County Library that we look forward to every year. Collaborating with the Conway Kiwanis Club and the Community Action Program for Central Arkansas (CAPCA), our library serves as a distribution center for the sets of personalized bookcases and book starter kits that 50 Head Start children from disadvantaged backgrounds receive to help them succeed in their education and development of literacy skills.
The Project, entering its 19th consecutive year, is a volunteer-led initiative founded by Jim Davidson in 2005, the nationally-syndicated newspaper columnist and author who saw a need to fulfill in Arkansas. Noticing the lower literacy rates at the local level, Davidson sought to implement a program that would aid in expanding opportunities for families and their children to have access to books. “We will never improve the problem of illiteracy in our nation, until we make reading a top priority in the homes of America again,” Davidson stated.
Over time, organizations like Kiwanis began to get involved, leading to a statewide endeavor where children ages 3-5 are encouraged to begin reading in order to better ensure their future success, both professionally and personally. During October, The Bookcase Banquet serves as the primary source of funding for the construction of the bookcases. The banquet is also where status updates on our state’s literacy rates are shared, and committee members of the Bookcase Project Board, including our own Library Director, convene to inform the Department of Education of progress in their districts and celebrate milestones.
The books and bookcases aren’t the only things the Head Start children are gifted with, either. Each bookcase is labeled with a nameplate of the recipient, and the books come with personalized bookmarks plus a stuffed animal to accompany as a reading buddy. This year, the children got to take home adorable unicorns and puppies with them.
Since the Project’s founding, over 900 bookcases and starter kit sets have been awarded to preschoolers in Faulkner County. According to a research brief released by Amplify on February 16, 2022, the number of students nationally in grades K-5 at risk of not learning to read has increased during the pandemic. “The purpose of our literacy initiative is to reverse this trend and reduce the percentage of students who need additional support in reading,” said Richard S. Plotkin, chair of the Bookcase Project.
Now in 2023, 50 more kids from Conway, Greenbrier, and Southside schools are getting the support they need. Check out these wholesome, heartwarming photos from the event below! 🦄 🐶 📚