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Weekly book distribution offers students access to summer literacy

Books distributed at Red Hawk Ridge on June 5. Emma Tsevlee reported to Red Hawk Ridge Elementary School on June 5 expecting only to pick up meals for her two children, both kindergarteners bound for an academic path through the Cherry Creek School District.

In addition to the food the district has been distributing at select sites since the outset of the COVID 19 crisis, Tsevlee left Red Hawk with an additional vital resource for her kids: books. Tsevlee was one of the dozens of CCSD community members who took advantage of a new distribution program for the summer that kicked off on a sunny Friday morning. Every week at six sites across the district, district librarians, literacy experts and community volunteers will hand out a selection of free books for students in all grade levels.

“This is very nice,” Tsevlee said. “My son is going into kindergarten, and he loves picture books.”

Thanks to support from the Cherry Creek School Foundation’s Emergency Relief Fund and contributions from the district’s Title I fund, CCSD secured more than 2,500 books for K-12 level readers. The titles represent a broad cross-section of subjects, characters and narratives; CCSD librarians selected these books with a specific purpose in mind.

“We wanted to concentrate on culturally rich content, on books that give all of our students the chance to see themselves represented,” said Denise Wendl, Manager of the CCSD library. “The books offer a wide range of characters – African American characters, Hispanic characters, other characters of color. They focus on different genders and different subjects. Teacher librarians from all levels helped choose these books.”

Students and parents who visit Cherry Creek High School, Overland High School, Sunrise Elementary, Meadow Point Elementary, Highline Elementary or Red Hawk Ridge Elementary on Friday mornings through the summer will have access to a diverse range of titles.

“Dear Martin” by Nic Stone is a novel geared toward teen readers that explores the history and status of racism in America; “Duck on a Bike” by David Shannon is a picture book for elementary school readers that follows the adventures of a farm animal who embarks on an exciting journey; “Allies” by Alan Gratz tracks the history of the final phases of World War 2 for high school readers. The selection also includes books that have inspired award-winning films like “Hair Love” by Matthew Cherry, a work that offers a tribute to self-confidence and self-love.

Offering students from across the district the chance to access these thought-provoking and award-winning titles for free supports the core mission of the district, Wendl said. As students enter the summer after months of learning remotely, it’s even more critical to make sure they continue learning and reading.

“There is a ton of research that shows that continuing reading and school work helps prevents summer slide,” she said, referring to the phenomenon that sees students falling behind in their learning during weeks and months off school. “It’s keeping your brain exercised; it’s building vocabulary and using your leisure time to stay invested in reading and learning.”

Wendl said that the support of the Cherry Creek Schools Foundation and district leadership has been critical in securing these resources for the effort, just as it’s been for supporting CCSD’s online library, Overdrive. The book distribution will continue at the six sites every Friday for as long as supplies last.

“We truly want to thank the Cherry Creek Schools Foundation; this is our biggest project yet,” Wendl said. “It all helps connect our students with more reading time during the summer months.”

For more information or to donate to the Cherry Creek Schools Emergency Relief Fund, please visit https://ccsdfoundation.org/cherry-creek-schools-emergency-relief-fund.html.

Posted on 6/9/20 at 10:20 AM