Nashville Book Connection: Diverse Books for Kids

**UPDATE: In light of 2020 school closures, Nashville Book Connection (NBC) was forced to pause its scheduled spring launch at Warner Arts Elementary. As our community weathers the coronavirus crisis together, all book donations moving forward will be distributed to MNPS students through partnerships with local literacy initiatives working together during this unprecedented time. 

We are currently working in partnership with Book’em Kids—a longtime literacy program that promotes book ownership—to get diverse books to as many Nashville children as we can. (Each NBC book going to a K-4 student has an interactive bookmark and an “I love reading” message from another MNPS student.) Book’em team members are distributing books to students at multiple sites and are taking every precaution to ensure the safety of both book recipients and volunteers.

NBC will continue to connect with teachers, principals and students to ensure kids get books they are excited to read!

Update on Pilot Program at Warner Arts Elementary: Our pilot program with Warner Arts Elementary originally scheduled for this Spring is on hold until MNPS resumes. However, our book carts are stocked and ready to meet students. Given the nature of the current situation, we are likely looking at a roll-out in the 2020-21 academic year. We are working with Warner Arts faculty to meet student and family needs where we can in the interim. 

NBC aims to impact literacy by building connections between families and communities. The challenges brought by recent weeks and the many ahead point toward the critical need for partnership and local support. Donate money. Help our local literacy organizations get books in kids’ hands now.

**Read below to learn more about NBC and our soon-to-launch pilot at Warner Arts Elementary. Again, please be mindful that the originally scheduled Spring 2020 launch was postponed due to current school closures. The new launch date will be posted as soon as possible.**

Nashville Book Connection (NBC)
is a yearlong pilot program that aims to support a culture of readership at home by providing meaningful, intentionally chosen, diverse texts to local elementary school students.  NBC hopes to build home libraries full of books students are excited to read with their families and friends or by themselves. 

This program is about connection. It’s about kids connecting with books, it’s about families connecting over reading, and it’s about communities connecting over shared favorite books from childhood through adulthood. 

How It Works...

Your donations will go toward buying new and very gently used books children want to read--books about space, books about animals, books with mirrors for kids to see themselves.

As we continuously curate a collection, we will "roll out" a yearlong pilot at two different elementary Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) partners--one in Fall 2019, one in Spring 2020.

After a successful Fall pilot*,  this Spring NBC will partner with another elementary school where 230 students attend. Volunteers will again man mobile book carts at the end of the school day at various pick-up locations. From these carts, students pick one book a week for six weeks to take home and keep.

We are measuring impact as best we can. Each book has a short feedback card inside. We are asking students to return these cards after they read their chosen books. This information allows us to not only determine which books are successful with students but also which students are repeatedly taking NBC books home.

We are gathering additional data to better understand what home readership looks like and to what extent NBC's pilot has moved the needle.

How It Stands Out…

Nashville is home to several extraordinary literacy initiatives that support readership amongst elementary school students in the community. These admirable programs work hard to increase book access by both building home libraries and increasing library usage. What NBC aims to do is complement these programs by providing books that speak specifically to elementary student interest:

·      NBC curates its book supply based on student and teacher requests—both specific titles and genres.

·      The team relies on children’s literature professors and reviewers to inform its list of titles.

·      Even more, books are chosen based on expert reviews of diverse books, giving children opportunities to see themselves reflected in characters’ lives and experiences.

Fundraising Status…

Thanks to many committed donors, NBC raised over $5000 to support the first phase of the pilot in the Fall 2019. These funds allowed us to buy over 1400 meaningful, diverse books that K-4 students are excited to read! We exceeded our expectations at Carter Lawrence Elementary School in the Fall, giving out nearly 250 books per week for 6 weeks. 

We plan to have as much success in the Spring 2020 phase of the pilot as we partner with an elementary school in East Nashville. 

We have learned that with every $1000, we can purchase about 250 quality titles from picture books to chapter books. We have seen the excitement students show as they choose books:

·      with characters who look like them.

·      with topics they are interested in reading.

·      with the understanding that these books are theirs to keep.

To see this yearlong pilot through and to continue to allow every student at least one book to take home, we need to increase our fundraising goal. As we plan our next 6-week pilot, we need to buy more books kids are excited to read!

DONATE by Sunday, March 1st to make this possible.

To learn more, visit Nashville Book Connection .

*In Fall 2019, we partnered with one local K-4 school with a student body of 280 students. We sent home over 1400 books in six weeks. 

**At this time, Nashville Book Connection is not a 501(c)(3) organization. As such, all donations will be withdrawn by NBC founder, Clare Clarke, to a personal bank account. 100% of these funds will be dedicated to NBC for purchasing books and/or other supplies.


Seeing impact
“To have a diverse collection [of books] that they can see themselves in I think has made a huge difference in them… they want to read. To see them wanting to read is like, ‘Yes, we are making strides.’”
- MNPS Dean of Students

Building a culture of readership at home
"[NBC is] building a family culture around books which helps us here." 
- MNPS Teacher

Excited to read books they choose
“For me as the parent, it has warmed my heart to see how my kid has responded [to NBC]. My youngest is not a reader. He is in 2nd grade. He would never pick up a book. Now he says, ‘Mommy, it’s Wednesday (NBC Day). I need a book!’”
- MNPS Parent


Reading with family
“I think the books are really good. Whenever I go home, me and my brothers read the [NBC] books. I sometimes read to my baby brothers so they can go to bed. They are 3 and 4 years old.”
- MNPS 4th grader

Reader identity
“I read them a lot and they make my brain grow.”
- MNPS 2nd grader, from NBC Student Response Bookmark

Connecting with other readers outside of family
“Reading the {reader-to-reader] notes makes me want to read the book.”
- MNPS 2nd grader

Excited to read
“I think the books are really interesting…I feel like I’m in [the books], like actually doing the things." 
- MNPS 4th grader


On access to books

"Without access to books, the persistent gap between children who have access and those who don’t will remain. Our students will not reach their full potential without books, regardless of the educational reforms schools implement."

On owning new books
"When the only books children own are someone else’s discards and hand-me-downs, it can affect their self-esteem and their perception about books and reading."

Miller, D. Sharp, C. (2018). Game Changer! Book Access for All Kids. New York, NY: Scholastic.



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Clare Clarke 
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