Students create their own library to increase literacy

**Embargo: Milwaukee, WI** Students create their own library to increase literacy.

Milwaukee (WTMJ) — Milwaukee Public Schools is continuing its literacy initiative by giving away free books to kids.

With the help of Scholastic and the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, children at Brown Street Academy received five free books Wednesday.

“I am excited because I like to read when I get home,” 6-year-old Tykel said.

“Having a literacy deficit starts you off behind in school,” Executive Director of K-12 Initiatives at the University of Chicago Duane Davis said. “Just reading in general, having access to books is one of the most important things.”

Students also heard from authors of some of the books they could choose from. It’s that choice that author Christina Soontornvat says is of the utmost importance.

“It’s really a step of becoming a lifelong reader,” Soontornvat, author of The Diary of an Ice Princess said. “This practice of picking a book that interests you and taking it home and having that be your very own, that’s going to carry you all through life.”

Fifth grader Erica Day-Griffin was excited to read Soontornvat’s book. Day-Griffin talked to the younger kids about why she loves reading today.

“[Books] are really important,” Day-Griffin said. “They can get you to very amazing places. If you read, you can get a really good education and get into a really good school and succeed.”

Some of the students were as young as five-years-old. Many of the books are too advanced for them, but cultivating their interest in reading is where they hope to start.

“Even with picture books, students get their interests sparked,” Ava Morris, Principal at Brown Street Academy said. “That usually continues on and they become lifelong readers.”

Students at 14 Milwaukee Public Schools participated in the program.

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