Reading project hopes to boost literacy levels for struggling students

The Black Book Project aims to create reading material that relates to black students
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 11:41 AM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The literacy gap in Tennessee is concerning some parents.

The Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) scores show more than 40% of Black students scored below grade level with 34% of Hispanic students also falling behind. Meanwhile, 18.7% of white students are reading below grade level.

Some educators say reading materials are contributing to this gap.

Metro Nashville Schools employee, Meredith McKinney, noticed students need to have books with characters they relate to, which is why she teamed up with Book’em to start the Black Book Project.

The project’s initiative is to teach all Black students to love reading about topics that interest them. This comes as a new law is in place, making Tennessee third graders repeat the grade if they don’t meet the required reading level.

“Every child should be able to go to their home library and find books that they see themselves so that they know that they are important, they are special and that there are books for them just like there are books for everybody,” said Melissa Spradlin, Book’em Executive Director.

Thus far, the Black Book Project has given 4,000 books to students.

Book’em also has a program where mentors are paired with students who need extra help with reading. You can fill out a reading role model application here.