Bartholomew County residents have a tremendous opportunity to help increase literacy and bolster children’s educational foundations through the simple act of donating books.
The 2-year-old Elizabethtown Children’s Library gives away hardcover and paperback books to about 80 elementary school students in the community, located in the southeastern part of the county. Library volunteers believe it’s better to give books to children so they stay permanently in the homes and can be read with adults, rather than the traditional system.
The book giveaways are an effort to promote literacy and increase the town’s high school graduation rate of 58 percent. That’s well below Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.’s 2013 graduation rate of 85.2, and 90.8 percent at Hauser High School in Hope.
The Community Education Coalition is working with area schools and other partners to work toward a 100 percent graduation rate. Additionally, the coalition and its partners have set a goal of raising college-degree fulfillment in Bartholomew County from about 40 percent of adults now to about 60 percent.
Elizabethtown has another challenge in that about 100 of the town’s 400 residents live in poverty — also factors in literacy and graduation rates.
Response to the town’s book-giveaway program has been overwhelmingly positive. About 20 children regularly come Saturday morning or Monday afternoon to choose books. About 500 books have been given away this year.
However, the supply of books to give away is running low, and more donations are needed.
This would be a perfect time for parents to go through the shelves of their children’s books, gather up the ones that are no longer read and donate them to the Elizabethtown Children’s Library.
The library’s book giveaway helps support the Community Education Coalition’s larger effort to achieve a graduation rate of 100 percent among local students. That won’t happen if children do not have access to books that can help them improve their reading skills.
Elizabethtown’s children are part of the next generation that will be living and working in Bartholomew County. Providing them with educational tools such as books increases the odds that they’ll graduate from high school — and possibly college — and obtain well-paying jobs.
That benefits everyone in the county.