Pontiac schoolchildren build libraries at home for literacy

Natalie Broda
The Oakland Press

Pontiac – United Way for Southeastern Michigan is launching a new program in the Pontiac School District aimed at giving every child their own library of books at home.

The My Home Library program, in partnership with Scholastic Book Fairs, will provide thousands of books for free each year to the district. Students will be given the chance once each semester to attend the fair and take home five new books for themselves.

Three elementary schools were chosen to pilot the program on Tuesday, Dec. 17, where over 1,000 kids shopped through hundreds of books. The plan is to grow the program throughout the district over the next three years said Tonya Adair, chief impact officer at United Way.

“Literacy stands out as the issue with the biggest need for support in Pontiac schools, so we wanted to provide an opportunity to help students excel,” Adair said. “Having their own books is part of how we make sure they have the literacy skills they need to thrive not only in school, but beyond.”

Teachers will also get to choose five books for their classroom.

Akayla Anderson, a second grade teacher at Alcott Elementary, said she knows most of her kids don’t have their own books to read at home. Which is why she buys books out of her own pocket, restocking her classroom library so students can bring home two each month.

“This is so amazing to me to see such a wide selection of books that would interest these kids and keep them reading and excited,” she said.

Half of the proceeds from the books United Way purchases from Scholastic will be converted into “Scholastic dollars” for schools and teachers to use for supplies and equipment. The first five pilot schools will see approximately $26,000.

The next My Home Library fairs will take place in May.