James Patterson has pledged $1.25 million to save classroom libraries in the fifth installment of his Patterson Partnership with Scholastic Book Clubs. The bestselling author plans to give 4,000 teachers across the country individual grants of $250, matched by 250 Bonus Points from Scholastic Book Clubs, to further assist them in acquiring books and other materials for their classrooms.
Applications are being accepted through July 31 and winners will be announced in September. To date, Patterson has donated $7.25 million through his partnership with Scholastic Book Clubs; this year's pledge brings the total to $8.5 million. In 2018, the project drew a record 127,000 applicants.
In a new initiative this year, $250,000 will be allocated to 500 "new" teachers--with three years of experience or less--each of whom receives $500 and 500 bonus points to help fill their bookshelves.
To apply, teachers need to explain in fewer than 100 words how they plan to use $250 and 250 Bonus Points to help build their classroom libraries. All teachers in pre-K through grade 12 in U.S. schools are eligible to apply for a grant. Patterson hopes teachers and students will share their experiences in their communities using #PattersonPledge.
"Illiteracy--or lack of reading proficiency--is a huge and often daunting issue in this country," said Patterson. "In many, many states, more than 40% of students read below grade level. This is a shocking statistic. Tackling this epidemic can be overwhelming for parents and educators alike. But we have to start somewhere. And I think getting books into the hands of children is an excellent place to start. My hope is that my partnership with Scholastic helps teachers fill their classroom bookshelves, and gives their students access to books that they're excited to read--and ultimately, to foster a lifelong love of reading, as I strongly believe that better readers make better people."
Judy Newman, president of Scholastic Book Clubs, noted that Patterson's "vision of making great books available to all students is perfectly aligned with the work we do every day. The 800,000 classroom teachers who use Scholastic Book Clubs, on behalf of the millions of children they teach, need resources to build classroom libraries filled with books that are well suited to their students' interests, reading abilities, and imaginations--and provide easy and barrier-free access to those titles. I continue to be awed and inspired by James' generosity and his determination to put ample resources behind the vision of great books--and literacy--for all."