Students receive books

Published 9:38 pm Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Students at Mount Zion Elementary School received 900 clean, shiny, brand-new books yesterday, thanks to First Book-Hampton Roads and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The start-up First Book organization and its military partner launched their inaugural giveaway by handing out the books at Mount Zion Tuesday, along with Brighton Elementary School in Portsmouth and Children’s Harbor in Chesapeake.

“Our mission is to put books into the hands of children,” said Denise Lineberry, the public relations co-chair of the non-profit organization.

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She mentioned that only about 1 in 300 children in low-income households has an age-appropriate book in his or her home; however, in middle income homes, the ratio of books per child is 13 to one.

“That is a statistic we want to improve in Hampton Roads,” she said.

First Book-Hampton Roads partnered with the U.S. Coast Guard to distribute the books, which were donated via grants from First Book-Hampton Roads and through its parent organization, First Book’s National Book Bank and Marketplace.

Children at Mount Zion Elementary School on Tuesday morning were ecstatic, snatching up copies of “Stone Soup,” “My First Atlas,” “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” and other Scholastic book titles.

By the end of the year, First Book-Hampton Roads will have distributed more than 2,500 free books to students at the three elementary schools.

“We want to get them lost in the books, rather than get them lost in other things,” said Capt. Patrick Trapp, a U.S. Coast Guard member and liaison for the First Book program. “We can end illiteracy in Hampton Roads by working together to make reading a part of every child’s experience.”

With the Coast Guard sharing the duties of crime prevention and law enforcement with other organizations, it makes sense for members to assist with a program that will improve literacy rates in Hampton Roads, Trapp said.

“It’s a natural fit.”