World Literacy Foundation, The Salvation Army collaborate to provide books for Texas youth

By: Sarah Munoz

Many take the ability to read for granted but, in reality, there are 30 million adults in the United States who are unable to read above the 8th grade level. USA Reads, an initiative of the World Literacy Foundation (WLF), is changing that by offering literacy services and distributing over 200,000 children’s books annually, including to The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs across Texas.

“The pandemic has really exacerbated the issue, with so many schools being forced to close,” said Andrew Kay, CEO of World Literacy Foundation. “Our work is more important than ever, and these partnerships are one of the things that allow us to continue work.”

Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs in the Dallas area, as well as Port Arthur, Texas City, Beaumont, Kerrville, San Antonio and Big Spring, received more than 660 English and Spanish language books during the summer of 2021. Books range from Kindergarten through 10th Grade level, including titles such as Star Wars, Maisy’s Animals, 500 Palabras Nuevas Para Ti (500 Words to Grow On), Dumbo, and many more.

“The Salvation Army is so grateful for the book donation from the World Literacy Foundation,” said Alesia Lane, director of The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs in Texas. “Over the summer months, our clubs provided academic camps, reading clubs, and project-based learning to prioritize academic success and help combat learning loss for the young people we serve. The book donation helped to enhance academic programs by providing take home books for many kids across Texas.“

Club members were very excited to select a brand-new book to take home. “It feels good to get a book as I don’t have a lot of books at home,” said Justin, age 9.

“Thank you for the book,” said Evelyn, age 11. “I will be able to read for the rest of the summer.”

With challenges in schooling over the last year-plus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this donation couldn’t come at a better time. Education is paramount, and this collaboration stands to greatly benefit students.

“During the pandemic, children from low-income background were the hardest hit and left behind due to limited access to books, educational tools, and owning a digital device,” Kay said. “The increasing numbers of children from low socioeconomic backgrounds who are struggling with reading, writing and numeracy skills due to the pandemic is a coming economic and personal train wreck. That’s why local collaboration is key, and we are happy to work with The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of to reach children across Texas.”