Quick Collaboration Ensures Books for Cleveland Students During School Closures

During their recent coronavirus response efforts, leaders from both Cleveland State University and Cleveland Metropolitan School District found ways to quickly put high-quality books into the hands of Cleveland elementary students (kindergarten – fourth grade) who unexpectedly found themselves learning at home when Governor Mike DeWine announced the extended closure of all Ohio schools on March 12, 2020.

Following the school closure announcement, Sharon Brown, CSU’s director of the Center for Excellence and Innovation and the Cleveland Schools Book Fund, reached out to CMSD Superintendent Eric Gordon with an offering of books for Cleveland students, and Gordon was quick to accept. The next day, hundreds of books were packed from her CSU office and the book fund warehouse. CMSD trucks arrived the following day to pick up the boxes for drop off at school meal pick-up site locations throughout the city. 

Each CMSD meal site received just under 400 assorted books, and Brown has used all of her organization’s merchandise credits from Scholastic Books to arrange an additional shipment directly from the book wholesaler to arrive this week. Scholastic Books’ account representative did her part to help arrange free shipping and efficient order processing (while working remotely) so that every site will receive 18 sealed packages of 50 books each for students K-2 and 3-4. Any remaining packages will be stored by CMSD for summer programming.  

“This all happened very quickly and incredibly smoothly!” said Brown. “I am very pleased that the Book Fund was able to support the children, families and the district in this way. Thank you to everyone who made this possible.” 

One of the added benefits of having CSBF books in Cleveland homes is that teachers who are now teaching remotely and parents who are supporting their child’s education at home can use the custom videos on the organization’s website to “read along” with students. 

We know that 20 minutes of reading per day will pay dividends in a child’s vocabulary and early literacy, but Brown reminds both teachers and parents that expectations should be realistic during unprecedented and stressful times like the COVID-19 pandemic. “Personal connections between teachers/students and parents/children are more important than instruction during a time like this. But sharing time together with books is a simple and effective way to keep those connections strong.” 

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