UC Students To Keep Skills Sharp With Books From Governors’ Early Literacy Foundation

By Mike Hutchens, UC Schools Communications Director


Union City, Tenn.–Many students at Union City Elementary School will have the opportunity to brush up on their reading before the 2020-21 school year begins.


Rising first-graders, second graders and those students who’ll enter the third grade will be the recipients of two books per month in June, July and August, thanks to the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF).


In all, the program will provide 30,000 K-3rd Grade students in Tennessee with books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Summer Collection — at no cost to families or school districts.


Union City is one of 33 Tennessee school districts participating. The books are scheduled to be mailed to the students’ homes for them to enjoy this summer.


“We’re thrilled to be participating in this program and to put books in the hands of our students in the aftermath of these chaotic and uncertain times,” UC Elementary School Principal David Byars said. “Having not seen nor had in-person interaction with our students because of the coronavirus outbreak, we’re hopeful that they’ll keep the good habits they developed earlier in the school year until we were forced to dismiss school.


“I believe it’s a great way to keep our students engaged and I think they’ll really enjoy the books.”


Union City dismissed classes on March 19 and ultimately for the 2019-20 school year due to COVID-19.


It is the belief of GELF that the program has wide-ranging good effects for young students.

“Third grade reading proficiency is a key indicator for a child’s future educational success and workforce readiness,” said James Pond, GELF President. “Through this pilot initiative, we hope to combat summer learning loss and strengthen early literacy in Tennessee by providing students with books and resources outside of school.”


Also known as the “Summer Slide,” research shows that two to three months of reading proficiency is lost for students who do not read over the summer. Reading four to six books has the potential to stop or even reverse “Summer Slide.”


Since 2004, GELF has partnered with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and affiliates in all 95 Tennessee counties to provide books monthly to children from birth to age five, at no cost to families. GELF’s K-3rd Grade Summer Reading pilot expands book delivery efforts for students in participating districts with specially selected, age-appropriate Summer Collection books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.


Participating school districts were chosen based on the county’s designation of “distressed” or “at-risk” by the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development and the Tennessee Department of Education.


Through this pilot, families will also receive free access to digital learning resources and activities to engage with their children around the monthly books.


For more information about K-3rd Grade Summer Reading, visit the GELF website.