Author Neil Gaiman states, “A book is a dream you hold in your hand.” As parents, we all know the power and value of reading to our children to open their eyes to the larger world, to build a love of language and literacy, and to lay a foundation of a future as a reader and writer.  But what if you don’t have books in your home?  What if your parents work while you are home from school?  What if you are learning a new language? That is the case for many of our students at Blue Ridge School.

Blue Ridge School serves 651 kindergarten through fifth grade students.  100% of these students qualify as economically disadvantaged and 33% are English Language Learners. This year 17 students at Blue Ridge are new to our country.

Three years ago, our mission team felt called to invest our time and resources in local projects that would promote literacy and help reduce the adverse effects of poverty.  We decided to create a partnership with Blue Ridge School.  We began a Book of the Month club with the goals of instilling a love of literacy, creating a classroom collection of quality children’s literature, and building relationships with the students and staff. We began reading to kindergarten classrooms once a month.  That year we served approximately 100 students and donated 10 books to each classroom for a total of 50 books.  We also helped with a Valentine’s Day Party for each classroom and some of our volunteers even went on field trips with the students.

The next year we added more classrooms and more volunteers to serve both kindergarten and first grade. In our third year, we have expanded our program to include all kindergarten, first and second grade classrooms. This would not have been possible without your support and our core of volunteers, which has expanded to include members of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church and other community members.

Reading a book a month doesn’t seem like much, but sometimes it is the small, deliberate acts that have the biggest impact.  When we enter Blue Ridge School, we are greet by smiles, hugs, and hellos from the 300 students that we serve. 15 teachers look forward to our visits so they can share the work their students are doing and also have a small break in their busy day, and the classroom libraries are growing…including 300 books donated by our church!

3 years, 300 students, 300 books and 300 dreams.

Thank you for your support of this project and please join us anytime for what will certainly be your favorite hour of the month!

Alice Ensley