Free books for families at Stephens Middle School event


Free books for families at Stephens Middle School event

Published 5:14 p.m. PT Feb. 24, 2017 | Updated 9:29 a.m. PT Feb. 27, 2017

Thursday, March 2, is Read Across America day, and Stephens Middle School students want to make sure all families have access to books.

The school will have about 1,000 books available in a giveaway program through a partnership with the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation’s Bazillion Books program.

Children who are read to at least three times a week by a family member are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25 percent in reading compared to children who are read to less than three times a week, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Additionally, reading early and often is key. A student who can’t read on grade level by third grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently by third grade, according to a study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

To make sure families of all economic backgrounds have access to books, students in the Stephens’ AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, program organized the giveaway and literacy event.

The event will be Thursday from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the school’s library.

Community members can exchange books or simply take books home. Every family will leave with at least one book.

“These students identified a lack of access to books as a community issue they want to address,” said Jason Gundlach, the teacher advising the event. “This event is their response to that issue.”

Diana Villa Cid, a seventh grader helping organize the event, said she wants to help kids be strong readers like her.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “I hope we get a lot of people books in their homes.”

For more information, contact Stephens Middle School, 4962 Hayesville Dr. NE, at 503-399-3442 or go to

Contact Natalie Pate at, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate and Facebook at

Published by Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is a freelance journalist and author based in Salem, Oregon. She wrote about education for more than seven years at the Statesman Journal and now covers education and other topics throughout the Pacific Northwest. She is originally from Colorado and earned her B.A. in Politics and French from Willamette University.

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