We're delighted to be joined by Jarred Amato, founder of the Project LIT Community. Jarred is a high school English teacher at Maplewood High School in Nashville, TN. Jarred is committed to solving the issue of “book deserts” - schools and communities that lack readily-accessible literature, especially in high-poverty urban neighborhoods. In doing so, he has founded Project LIT (or Libraries in The) Community - to implement, design, form, sustain, and spread reading in his local community. Since then, Jarred has worked to spread Project LIT to other neighborhoods - reaching over 230 chapters in 38 states. You can sign up to join Jarred in Nashville on June 16th for the inaugural Project LIT Summit or connect with the organization on Twitter @ProjectLITComm.
Jarred recommends the organization/webstore FirstBook for building a classroom library, which offers educators books at incredibly low rates. For grant funding proposals, the Junior Library Guild has compiled a solid list. Furthermore, DonorsChoose is a fantastic resource for crowdsourcing resources. Building a library of great works that students want to read cannot be understated. The best way to promote literacy is not by forcing it or drilling importance - it must be discovered as worth it. To do so, allow students choice, a wide selection, and ample amounts of time to read.
At multiple points in this podcast, we mentioned the educator Kelly Gallagher. Gallagher is an expert in literacy studies and teaching, and has written a plethora of articles and books on the matter. We recommend the book, Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It. If you have time, consider checking it out this summer at the library - it's a fairly short, easy read on why (and how) we need to promote literacy in schools.