Stopping the summer slide in Warren County with books
By Caitlin Boland

Jordyn Heath, a kindergartner at M.E. Freeman Elementary, picks a book from the table during the May 4 Books for Keeps event.
For the third year in a row, students at M.E. Freeman Elementary had Christmas in May, picking out 12 free books for their summer reading pleasure.
A group out of Athens called Books for Keeps began servicing the children of Warren County in 2014, and every student from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade is able to participate.
The nonprofit, founded by Melaney Smith in 2009, began after Smith noticed a second grade student was disappointed because school was ending along with her access to books.
The mission of Stop Summer Slide!, the organization’s flagship program, is to stop the “summer slide” or the learning loss suffered by many children when they are away from school during the summer.
“There has been 40 years of research that shows children fall two to three months behind if they don’t read during the summer,” said Books for Keeps Executive Director Leslie Hale. “Children from low-income families are the ones at the greatest rick of not having books, and the schools with the greatest need are the ones we serve. When a child falls behind, by middle school he or she may be two to three grade levels behind peers.”
The nonprofit found four percent of the students who were reading below grade level moved to being able to read at grade level because of books from the Books for Keeps organization.
The program serves 3,800 children in 11 elementary schools, including M.E. Freeman in Warren County.
Hale said by giving children these books it gives them access to tools to help close the achievement gap caused by the “summer slide.”
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