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  • Megan Shaffer

Worthy Cause: Dallas ISD Advocacy for Books

dallas ISD read for me literacy STEM early education worthy causes

The Dallas Independent School District sits in the heart of a large, diverse, and dynamic region of Texas with a metropolitan population of around 6.5 million people. When the US opened the border in accordance with the North American Free Trade Agreement there was a great shift in the ethnic makeup of the school systems, creating a need for access to more multi-lingual resources.

Gay Patrick, the Director of Library Media Services at Dallas ISD, provides leadership to the librarians of the district to help them offer the best multi-cultural and multi-lingual books for the libraries in her district, which serves 235 schools and approximately 157,000 students.

About Gay Patrick

Gay Patrick grew up outside of Houston, Texas. In the 70s, she moved to Dallas, and around the same time she began working in education. She has held various jobs in academia, including working several years at University of Texas at Austin in technical services and government documents and St. Edwards University, then on to Dallas ISD serving as a librarian, and eventually moving into administration.

About Dallas ISD’s Literacy Programs

Dallas ISD started working with the Reading is Fundamental (RIF) program in the 70s, which was represented with 84 campus libraries participating in the program at that time. RIF is a nationwide program leading the charge to improve childhood literacy. However, since RIF lost their specialized federal funding in 2011, there are now only 18-24 libraries still participating in the program in the district.

Eventually, Dallas ISD moved their focus from books for ownership to reading support in other ways. One example is that librarians can now select titles for their campuses from donated funds when available. This assures that rather than buying as many books as possible, the books selected are ones that kids actually want to read.

“It’s not about getting a book in the hands of a kid anymore; it’s about getting a book in their hands that the student wants to read.”
-Gay Patrick, Director of Library Media Services, Dallas ISD

dallas ISD read for me literacy STEM early education worthy causes

Now, the Dallas ISD no longer receives funding from RIF. Instead, KPMG, a multi-national accounting organization with a focus on giving back to communities, donates funding for books. KPMG supports school reading events, which have included Read Across America, RIF Schools, and the Dallas ISD Read for Me Event, a Language and Literacy Department project. Dallas ISD uses First Book, which allows them to stretch their money and purchase more books that their kids want.

About the Read for Me Event

dallas ISD read for me literacy STEM early education worthy causes

Every year, Dallas ISD has a Read for Me Event. It started four years ago, and takes place at one of the district’s high schools. It’s a community event that creates an interactive, multi-cultural experience in literacy while advocating for parents, students, and community members. Secondary students in the community may attend the North Texas Teen Book Festival, but there is still a strong need for books for young children, so the event’s intended audience is K-6.

When a child enters the event, they receive at least three books: one Spanish book in the Pre-K through 2nd grade and two English books. The books are given based on their grade. While going through the event, kids receive a bag or backpack to add any additional books they may acquire during the sessions. Sessions take place in different rooms within the school and include keynote speakers, games, and events. At each session that they attend, they get a free book, so, by the end of the day, a child could walk out with up to 6+ books, depending on how many sessions they chose to attend. The children are also given free breakfast and lunch at the event, which are provided by donations from the community.

Read for Me is a fantastic event that not only helps kids build a home library, but also sparks their love of reading. We are proud that 101 Things Everyone Should Know About Math and 101 Things Everyone Should Know About Science are among the books given away to the children who attend.

For more information on the Read for Me Event click here.

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