We are raising money to purchase books containing diversity to donate to Summer Reading Packs and Classroom Libraries in Hillsborough County and to stock vending machines filled with books located in several schools in Florida.
I’m Chase Hartman and in the past three years, my best friend Vance Tomasi and I have donated more 110,000 new and used books
to every state in the nation as part of a project we created called “read.repeat.” www.readrepeat.org
Our passion is collecting used books through book drives for our local county school system to be given either directly to the schools’ classroom libraries or given to children who might not otherwise own books. We’ve donated more than 60,000 books to kids in our county… but there’s one problem. Most of the books we donate only represent a small percentage of the children attending those schools. In Hillsborough County 35% of the students are Hispanic and another large percentage of students are African American. It's important for them to see themselves in the books they read.
We’ve donated books to 60 schools and Summer Camps in the county and visited dozens of schools meeting thousands of children. The faces we see aren’t always the same faces in the books. We realized we need to purchase high interest books with diversity, representing the minorities in our county which make up the majority of the students we visit.
Studies show that only 1 out 300 kids in struggling areas own books and kids who do own books do better in school. It’s our goal to give kids books that represent them! As leaders of the only “kid-run” book collecting project in the county we hold a seat on the Hillsborough County Literacy Advisory Team. It is their goal, as well as ours, to collect high-interest books to represent the many cultures and skin tones in our county. We have partnered over the last two years with Hillsborough County Public Schools and we donate thousands of books each year for Summer Reading Packs. This year, we want to see more diversity in the packs.
Each year, we will begin our efforts in January, collecting and requesting books for Summer Reading Packs to donate to students to take home hoping it will encourage them to read and battle the “Summer Slide.” We run drives in our sports groups, my martial arts studio and within the local schools. Collection drives run through May. We scramble to collect tens of thousands of books. We request help from our Boy Scout Troop, National Junior Honor Society and our little brothers’ Cub Scout pack to help collect, sort, count and pack the donations. Sometimes, we even rent a U-Haul to get the books to the schools, setting up tables and watching the kids filter through to pick out a few books they love. We invite local media to cover the event. Photos of the childrens’ faces holding books that represent them is the perfect way to measure the success of this project. The Hillsborough County Public School System is also tracking data to support the growth of third-grade readers when supplied with books.
Of course, we love our donations of used books, but we know this is the only way we are able to reach the many kids who’s faces aren’t represented in the popular book series. We want to introduce them to characters like EllRay Jakes, Freddie Ramos, Sofia Martinez and Little Shaq.
Vance and I have worked hard to promote literacy in our county. We've won the Hillsborough County Literacy Association’s Celebrate Literacy Award, The Barbara Hancock Literacy Award as well as the state-wide Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award. Our efforts are proven. We work hard for the kids attending Title 1 Schools in struggling areas. We appreciate you support!