Kindergarteners at Fair Oaks Ranch Community School took home four, brand-new books this weekend.
“It’s almost like getting a present every week,” said Jackie Hartmann, executive director of the Santa Clarita Valley Education Foundation. “It brings me great joy to see them smile like they do when they get a brand new bag of books.”
This is the first year the school was added to the SCV Education Foundation’s Bag of Books program, which allows students to take home four new books each week to share with their family and encourage a love of learning.
“In a school year they’ll have an opportunity to read 120 different books in their homes with their families, with their brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles, with anyone,” Hartmann said. “We just want books in the home and parents engaged with their children and reading.”
The program in Fair Oaks Ranch’s kindergarten classroom was supported by the California Credit Union, which is currently sponsoring the Bag of Books program in four SCV classrooms.
“We are a proud supporter of the education community, especially in the Santa Clarita Valley,” said Mariam Nasiry, business development officer for the California Credit Union and board member for the SCV Education Foundation. “We took it upon ourselves to support an additional classroom this year to help the foundation and help the kids read.”
For Nasiry, it was a joy to see the children open their blue bags and explore the books’ different titles and pages.
“It was awesome to see them so organized, so disciplined and so excited to read,” Nasiry said. “I’m a huge book advocate and still go to bookstores, no device can compare to a book.”
About six years ago, the SCV Education Foundation began the Bag of Books program to bring new books to kindergarten students at Title 1 schools where at least 40 percent of the student population is socioeconomically disadvantaged.
“We are bringing books into the homes of kids who may not have financial resources, who may not have parents who speak the language or read the language,” Hartmann said. “It’s putting books into their homes to help them and even their parents read.”
Now, the Bag of Books program is in 54 kindergarten and transitional kindergarten classrooms in all 15 Title 1 schools in the Santa Clarita Valley.
“Our goal was to be this year was to finish off and be in all 15 Title 1 schools and we are,” Hartmann said. “That’s touching almost 1,400 children and that means there’s 55,000 books out in the community that the Santa Clarita Valley Education Foundation is providing.”
Not only does the program provide students with new books each week, but it also teaches parents how to read as well.
“We’ve had parents come back to us and say, ‘I learned how to read because of the Bag of Books program.'”
The Bag of Books program is fully support by the foundation’s fundraising efforts, single bag sponsorships of $25 and classroom sponsorships of $1,000.
“Now that we’re done with all the Title 1 schools we are going to roll our program out to maybe first graders in these Title 1 schools,” Hartmann said. “So it just means more fundraisers for us.”
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