Ocean Avenue and Riverton elementary students show their excitement and pride as they receive free books from the Books for Ownership program.

The Foundation for Portland Public Schools recently partnered with Reading Is Fundamental (RIF).

RIF, a national children’s literacy nonprofit, provided free books to the district’s fourth- and fifth-graders through RIF’s Books for Ownership program. RIF’s Books for Ownership program enables children to select new, age-appropriate books to take home and own and is supported by online resources for parents, educators, and local literacy advocates to create a continuous focus on reading.

More than 960 students at nine elementary schools throughout the district benefited from a $9,528 grant from RIF, in partnership with The Bingham Trust and secured by the Foundation for Portland Public Schools. Schools participating in the program are Cliff Island School, East End Community School, Lyseth Elementary School, Ocean Avenue Elementary School, Peaks Island Elementary School, Presumpscot Elementary School, Reiche Community School, Riverton Elementary School and Rowe Elementary School.

Promoting a Culture of Literacy

By providing children with choice and access to books and literacy resources, the Portland Public Schools hopes to create a culture of literacy in its community while working to give each child an opportunity to become a proficient and avid reader.

“Giving students books is a research-based, low-cost way to improve student learning during out of school time,” said Portland Public Schools Superintendent Xavier Botana. “We are grateful to the RIF/Bingham Trust Books for Ownership program for recognizing this and working with the Portland Public Schools to make this possible for all of our families.”

“Reading Is Fundamental is committed to creating a culture of literacy in communities nationwide and ensure every child has the fundamental building blocks needed to achieve their highest potential. Reading is the necessary foundation for all children that puts them on the pathway for success,” said Reading Is Fundamental President and CEO, Alicia Levi. “For over 50 years, Reading Is Fundamental has supported communities with the resources they need to impact children in their communities and we are excited to partner with the Portland Public Schools to bring this program to the city of Portland.”

Engaging Readers

The Books for Ownership program relies on a simple yet fundamental truth: If you allow children choice and access, they will be more engaged readers. Over 40 million children nationwide have had the opportunity to experience the power and excitement of this program.

All of the schools’ fourth and fifth grade students are able to select three free books at a book celebration event at each school. The schools are able to log in to RIF’s bookstore to choose the books to make available for student selection. RIF’s community portal, Literacy Network, offers robust resources to support school staff.

For more information, go to RIF resource site, Literacy Central.