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Mayor Battle's Book Club Focuses on Literacy in Early Education


Mayor Battle Book Club
For Release on March 9, 2012
HUNTSVILLE, AL- Mayor Battle's Book Club announced today it will distribute 18,000 books to more than 4,500 students in Huntsville's 10 Title 1 elementary schools by the end of the school year. Each student will receive four books, helping them establish a personal library at home and hopefully instilling a love of reading.

"Access to books at an early age is critical in a child's development, and we want to be certain all of our children have books at home," said Mayor Battle. "We will be providing age appropriate books for students in pre-kindergarten through 5th grade and in the Head Start Program."

Mayor Battle's Book Club, in collaboration with First Book of North Alabama, is made possible through the generous support of corporate sponsors Boeing, Breland Homes, PNC Bank, Woody Anderson Ford, and an anonymous donor, who contributed a combined $50,000 to this year's program. Together this team is working to strengthen literacy in Huntsville.

Now in its second year, the Mayor's Book Club officially kicked-off its 2012 program on Friday, March 2, at University Place School as part of national "Read Across America Day." The Mayor and his wife, Eula, read "Green Eggs and Ham" to more than 500 students at the kick-off assembly.

City School Superintendent Dr. Casey Wardnyski, who attended the event, said "Huntsville City Schools are committed to strengthening early childhood literacy, and it is collaborative, innovative and quality initiatives like Mayor Battle's Book Club that helps us build a successful foundation for our students."

To promote the Mayor's Book Club, Mayor Battle and his sponsors traveled today to each participating elementary school and read the Dr. Seuss book to students. In addition to University Place Elementary, the Mayor and sponsors read at Martin Luther King Jr., Lakewood, Highlands, West Mastin Lake, Rolling Hills, Montview, Louis J. Morris, Ridgecrest, and McDonnell.

Mayor Battle praised his partner, First Book-North Alabama, and his corporate sponsors. "This program would not be possible without their commitment," he said. "Boeing, Breland Homes, PNC Bank, and Woody Anderson Ford are giving back to our community by playing a key role in ensuring that our students have the basic skills they need to further their education."

First Book-North Alabama handles the program logistics and book distribution. "Access to books is essential to reading development," said Mecca Musick, Co-Chair of First Book-North Alabama. "By providing children with books they can take home and keep, Mayor Battle's Book Club is addressing one of the most important factors affecting literacy."

First Book - North Alabama (FBNA) joins with publishing companies and is able to provide high quality books at a cost of about $2 per book. The First Book Online Marketplace offers numerous titles to suit a wide range of ages and reading levels. Following today's kick-off and distribution of "Green Eggs and Ham," FBNA works with the Huntsville City School system to choose the remaining books, and children will receive a new book every few weeks through the end of the school year.

National statistics show the ratio of books to children in middle-income neighborhoods is approximately 13 books per child. However, the ratio in low-income neighborhoods is only one book per 300 children. By providing children with books they can take home and keep, "Mayor Battle's Book Club" targets the only variable that correlates significantly with reading scores: the number of books in the home.

"When we invest in our children and their education, we invest in our future," said Mayor Battle. "Putting books into the hands of children is one part of this story. The second part involves the adults as reading coaches. As a community working together, we can write a story for our children with a happy ending."

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For more information, contact:

For more information, contact Kelly Cooper Schrimsher, Director of Communications, Office of the Mayor, 256-427-5006 w, 256-503-5032 c, kelly.schrimsher@huntsvilleal.gov.

Mecca Musick, Chair of First Book-North Alabama, 256-724-0073, or email mecca.musick@cumulus.com

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