BLT Book Drive: Avoiding the summer slide

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HARPER PROULX, age 4, having a look at a book. (Photo by E. Manners)

Next week, another ambitious book drive gets underway in Bridgton, sponsored by the Bridgton Literacy Taskforce (BLT).

The Spring Book Drive’s over-all objective is to fight the effects of the summer slide on Bridgton’s school-aged children.

The eight-week summer recess takes a terrible, well-documented, toll on reading skills. Not only do teachers spend about 15% of the school year catching children up to where they were in June, at-risk children can begin their downward spiral toward a 25% drop out rate.

At a meeting with Principal Cheryl Turpin at Stevens Brook Elementary School, the BLT focused their efforts on exploring the truth that, “Children who enter school ahead stay ahead; children who start behind often stay behind.”

Experience, research and study since last summer reveals that this sound-bite applies to all students entering any grade in any school.

Tactics the BLT plans to use this summer involve vocabulary building, along with grade-level reading and writing skills.

“We’re also hoping to add an art component to the mix,” said Shannon Grass, chairwoman of the BLT’s Spring Book Drive.

Spring Book Drive Goals

• Raise $2,500 to help fund the anti-slide BLT summer programs;

• Raise $1,300 to purchase Miss Rumphius for One-Book-One-School program

• Collect at least 3,500 gently-used children/young-adult books to give away for summer reading

• Collect at least another 3,500 books to give away around town for the next six months

Award-winning Dr. Richard Allington’s latest research eloquently documents the impact of the summer slide by noting that as much as 85% of the reading achievement gap between lower income students and their middle and upper-income peers is attributable to summer recess.

Wealthier households and communities have greater access to more forms of printed materials such as magazines, newspapers, and books at home and at local libraries, notes Allington.

Before the summer recess Bridgton’s 400 students will self-select six gently-used books for summer reading. A self-selected book has a far greater chance of getting read than an assigned book, research shows.

Funding Summer Programs

“Local donations show Maine foundations promoting literacy programs that Bridgton’s residents have some ‘skin in the game’ and that they stand behind the idea,” said Grass.

In a partnership with Bridgton Friends of the Arts, the BLT is now a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization. Private donors are able to fully deduct any monetary contribution to the BLT by sending checks made out to the BFA and sent to P.O. Box 712, Bridgton, ME 04009.

Donating Books

“We’ve borrowed a high-capacity pickup for the book drive,” says Grass. “It will have a large BLT banner in the back and will be parked around town during the duration of the book drive. We hope to have the BLT truck at Bridgton’s Transfer Station on Saturdays, starting on March 29, for book drop-offs but no arrangement has been confirmed. On Sundays, through April 20, it will be parked in the Food City lot.”

Norway Savings Bank, in Pondicherry Square, is another drop-off point for books during the drive.

The BLT does need volunteers for the Spring Book Drive, not surprisingly.

“By April the days will be nice and warm and helping collect books will be a good excuse to be outdoors before black fly season begins,” notes BLT President, Chris Przekop with a wink.

“Call us if you have a large donation to make,” notes Grass, “we’ll come and pick the books up at your home.”

The BLT meets at the Bridgton Community Center at 5:30 p.m. every second and fourth Tuesdays. Contact the BLT through Facebook, or, or call Shannon at 207-400-0234.


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