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Collier County nonprofit offering free books to combat summer slide

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Books for Collier Kids
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“Without basic literacy skills, children are at greater risk for academic failure, delinquency, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, unemployment, low productivity and welfare dependency, so partnering with Books for Collier Kids fits nicely with our promise to protect and serve our community,” said Sergeant Natalie Ashby – 3729, Diversity Outreach Coordinator, Community & Diversity Services Bureau, Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

Access to books is one of the most important factors affecting childhood literacy. Launched in 2005, Books for Collier Kids has distributed nearly 1.5 million new and personalized books to pre-K, kindergarten, first- and second-grade students in-need to enhance literacy development.

Sallie Williams, Books for Collier Kids Board Chair, says the organization started with a goal to help address the issue of “Summer slide,” where she says children lose 30% or more of their reading skills over the summer due to a lack of access to reading material.

“More than 60% of the children in Collier County Schools are from homes that are low and medium-income and, particularly with the inflation, families are having difficulties paying the rent and putting food on the table and clothing on their children’s backs let alone having any extra money to buy books,” said Williams.

Williams says that more than 90% of children in Collier County Title I Schools are deemed economically disadvantaged. There are 32 Title I Schools in the Collier School District.

In partnership with Collier County Sheriff’s Office this year, Books for Collier Kids is getting out into the community and getting books into the hands of elementary-aged children with a series of events called “Hot Summer Nights,” where a Books for Collier Kids volunteer works with an officer to distribute age-appropriate titles to students.

The free, family-friendly event is open to all ages with no reservation required. The event will also feature a bounce house, water balloon station, movies, music and dancing. The next events are on Thursday, July 21 at the Marco Island Mackle Park and Thursday, July 28 at the Everglades City Park both from 6 pm-8:30 pm. Learn more at BooksforCollierKids.org.