The Literacy Project addresses a serious educational need in the Northern Nevada K-12 community. Low-income students lack access to books that they find engaging, culturally relevant, and at their respective reading levels. Further, educators are unable to provide their students with books they request because of the unsustainable high out-of-pocket costs required to purchase book sets that public funding fails to cover. There is a pressing and immediate need in Northern Nevada for access to books that will both instill in students a love of reading, help nourish their literacy skills, and give them a solid foundation to be a successful student and adult.


In the last decade, low-income students have increasingly become residentially isolated from bookstores, libraries and services that provide print resources. [1] Scholars have termed this a "book desert." [2] Additionally, research has found that only 1 in 300 low-income students own a personal book. [3] According to Reading is Fundamental, the largest non-profit children's literacy organization in the United States, a large percentage of the books that students do have access to through school libraries fail to represent their racial, cultural, and linguistic lives. [4] In fact, only 37% of students graduating from high school in the United States graduate at or above reading proficiency. [5]


In Washoe County, 47.7% of elementary students, 50.6% of middle school students, and 46.7% of high school students are proficient in reading. [6] Across Nevada, 69% of fourth graders are not reading at a proficient level. [7] These statistics are even starker for children of color. In Nevada in 2019, black students had an average reading score that was 30 points lower than that of white students. [8] Hispanic students had an average score that was 27 points lower than that of white students. [9] Further, students eligible for free and reduced lunch had an average reading score that was 21 points lower than that for students not on free and reduced lunch. [10]

Access to print resources and

increasing the scholarly culture

Low-income children rarely have access to books outside of school libraries. [11] They do not own books because books are a luxury item - hardback books cost an average of $10-$15. Further, many children do not have the resources to get to a bookstore or public library.

Clearly, Nevada faces a pressing need that must be addressed through thoughtful attention to individual student needs. This is especially the case when it is well established that reading not only increases success in language arts, but also has a direct impact on whether a student has the tools to succeed in STEM areas. We know that the more books a student is exposed to, that exposure increases the "scholarly culture" of that child's life and contributes dramatically to academic success.

One of the most effective ways to increase a student's academic success is through literacy success. The Literacy Project provides books that teachers and students specifically request, because we believe that in order to succeed and develop a love of reading, our students must have books that are relevant to their lives. This means providing the most diverse and culturally relevant material to our students.


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Our teachers know more than anyone that increased literacy rates contribute to a student's academic success. Often, however, our teachers struggle to address those needs by coming out of pocket to fill a gap unaddressed by public funding. Teachers know that having classroom libraries and increasing student access to books through book study lesson plans, silent reading, or group read-alongs, increases classroom confidence, pride, and collaboration. 


However, funding classroom libraries and conducting book studies are expensive endeavors. In Nevada, our teachers spend approximately $534 out of pocket each year on supplies. Yet, they may only take a $250 tax deduction per year on supplies.  To obtain these books, teachers are increasingly turning to crowdfunding, such as Kickstarter or Donor's Choose (a website specifically for teachers). Crowdfunding takes time, effort, and connections - time, effort, and energy that teachers should not be spending, and which should be going toward teaching and inspiring our students.


The Literacy Project provides books to your students that they specifically want at no cost to the teachers or parents. We do this by donating new classroom sets of books, classroom library makeovers, and by fulfilling individual book requests to qualifying students. 

If you are an educator or mentor interested in receiving a book donation, please click the below button.

If you would like to donate, please click the below button.

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