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Soaring into Summer: Books for Ownership at Francis T. Evans Elementary School

Perseverance, determination and dreaming big – the themes of Reeve Lindbergh’s Nobody Owns the Sky – were on display on June 3 at Francis T. Evans Elementary School in Clinton, MD where 200 PreK-5 students were rewarded for a year of reading. National children’s literacy nonprofit Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), in partnership with long-time supporter State Farm Insurance, surprised the students as they near an end to their school year with an event to celebrate their year-long reading challenge, “Our Reading Takes Flight.” RIF staff read aloud Nobody Owns The Sky: The Story of “Brave Bessie”Colemanby Reeve Lindbergh, a true story of a young black woman in the 1920s, Bessie Coleman, as she achieved her dreams of becoming the first licensed African-American aviator.

Before the books were distributed, students got their bodies and minds moving with some physical warmup activitybefore creating personalized paper airplanes that were both fun and functional. The airplanes will be flown by the students to find a new reading spot based on where their airplane lands this summer. No matter where the children are during vacation, they can use this plane to find their own personal reading spot each day.

The event culminated with the big reveal - students lined up to choose three books each to own and take home for the summer – thanks to the generous support of corporate partner, State Farm Insurance. Over 600 books and activity sheets were distributed. As one fourth grader stated, “I really liked getting to pick out new books because I definitely needed some new books at home!”

Just as the students enjoyed their morning, so did State Farm team, RIF, and school staff. Dwayne Redd, Public Affairs Field Specialist with State Farm Insurance shared, “It’s really great to see the kids having so much fun, particularly with something educational that they get to take home and keep.” And, of course, the school’s principal hopes to do the same event next year!

“We are super excited to celebrate the work of our scholars. Each child had read consistently throughout the school year with our school wide literacy initiative. The Books for Ownership partnership allowed us to celebrate our scholars and give them books to read over the summer. Thank you for being a part of our learning community.” - Sonya Gaston, Principal, Francis T. Evans Elementary School.

Corporate partnerships like State Farm allow RIF to create new local programmatic partners and bring events to children in communities all over the country. Not only does it deepen our impact, it also expands the footprint and opens countless opportunities. Reading is the foundation for everything a child does in life.