Legacy Community Health, Houston’s largest community health system with 34 clinics, in partnership with BakerRipley, is providing thousands of free children’s books through its Little Readers initiative as part of the 2018 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Youth Gathering. The ELCA Youth Gathering — one of the nation’s largest public service efforts — will bring 30,000 high school students, from around the nation, to Houston for a week of public service work. Students will participate in a variety of volunteer work around the city including home repairs, community garden projects, human trafficking awareness and free book donations.
“We’re thrilled the Youth Gathering has chosen Houston this year and is making literacy part of its service work; and for choosing to partner with us,” said Debbie Costello, Legacy’s manager of volunteer services. “We look forward to showcasing our prescription for reading to children on summer break.”
Legacy’s Little Readers — in partnership with H-E-B — has provided 60,000 books at no cost to the health center’s pediatric patients. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the connection between literacy and child development is an essential part of health care.
Houston Independent School District estimates that 74 percent of the students in the district come from families who struggle to provide books for their kids. And according to researchers at the University of Tennessee, children who do not read in the summer can lose two-to-three months of reading development; kids who do read tend to gain a month of reading proficiency.
In partnership with BakerRipley, a community development organization connecting families to opportunity and resources, Legacy will host a “Blast off for Books” free book fair on Friday, June 29 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the BakerRipley Gulfton Sharpstown gym — 6500 Rookin St., Houston, TX 77074. The ELCA Youth Gathering, which has aimed to collect 100,000 books for children in Houston, will send 40 student volunteers to the Legacy BakerRipley event. Volunteers will participate in literacy games and help elementary-aged kids pick out several books to take home for summer reading.