Books on Break

Books on Break provides free books to children when they are out of school so that the joy of reading, the delight in book ownership, and the retention of literacy skills can be maintained throughout the year. Books on Break works in partnership with elementary schools to provide fun-filled book selection events for students in advance of summer vacations. Additional programs coordinated with many of our community partners ensure that an abundance of books is available to children during out-of-school time including meal provision programming and recreation events.

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Book Choice, Book Quantity, Book Ownership

Launched in 2012, Books on Break is an evidence-informed program designed to combat learning loss by equipping elementary school students with books to read during school breaks and keep forever. The Books on Break model embodies three core values: choice, quantity, and book ownership.

Through Books on Break, children are encouraged to choose whichever books they'd like from Book Harvest's selection, regardless of reading level, and keep the books forever. They are also encouraged to take several books, ensuring they have enough to accompany them through their school break.

There are two core components of Books on Break: 1) a partnership with schools to host free book fairs for their students; 2) Well Fed, Well Read, a program born out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Public Schools

Book Harvest partners with schools to provide books to students just before summer break, traditionally through "free book fairs." These events are set up to enable students choose the books they are interested in even if the books might be below or above their reading level. Students take the books home to keep forever. These books help them retain their academic skills and return to school in the fall ready to learn.

In summer 2019, 16,978 students selected 86,495 books during Books on Break in Durham Public Schools, Chapel-Hill Carrboro City Schools, Orange County Schools, Bladen, and Columbus counties!

Books on Break 2021 will continue its partnership with local schools by providing them with boxes of books in May. Book Harvest will then support schools in their distribution of the books to their students prior to summer.

Well Fed, Well Read

Well Fed, Well Read is a coordinated, multi-agency collaboration that adds books to the meals our partners are providing to families. What began in 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic turned into an official Book Harvest program that provides access to age-appropriate, culturally-inclusive books in conjunction with food distribution while children are on extended breaks from school. Partners include Durham Public Schools, food banks, and World Relief Durham.

Interested in becoming a Well Fed, Well Read partner? Contact Amy Franks at amy@bookharvest.org.

Resources

  • Afterschool providers and educators: download the Books on Break toolkit so that you can launch your own summer book giving program.
  • Summer program providers: download the Summer Learning toolkit to help you keep your children learning all summer long, and listen to the webinar introducing and explaining the Summer Counts guide.
  • Read a complete report from summer 2019 here.
UNC-TV’s North Carolina Now covered Books on Break at Glenn Elementary in Durham in June 2015

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