Book Fair kicking off month-long book drive

WINONA – A book fair is continuing today at Winona Church of Christ to help stockpile books for Bookworms and Butterflies, the newly-launched Montgomery County’s Early Childhood Literacy Initiative.

According to initiative leader Dr. Angela Bridges, with the Winona Separate School District, the book fair was organized as a way to stockpile books for the initiative as well as allow parents to purchase books for their children.

“People can purchase books to take home or donate them [to Bookworms and Butterflies],” Bridges said.  “If the total sales equal $2,500 or more, Scholastic [Books] will give us 55 percent of the total sales in free books.  The more books we sale, the more books we have for the project.”

Bookworms to Butterflies was conceived by leaders at Winona Separate School District to promote literacy in children from birth to eight-years-old, as well as press the importance of parents reading to their children.

According to Bridges, in looking at state tests given to kindergarteners at the beginning of the school year, Winona’s school leaders saw a discouraging trend –71 percent of students entering kindergarten were not ready to begin the rigorous curriculum required of students today.  That means that 71 percent of students entering kindergarten are starting out behind the curve, and before they can be taught the required curriculum for a Mississippi kindergartener, they must learn the basics – their letters, numbers, colors, and in some cases, how to hold a pencil or crayon.

Initially, Winona’s school leaders outlined their initiative as a proposal for Kellogg Foundation funding, however, after funding was declined, Winona schools pushed on to create a countywide, all-inclusive early childhood literacy initiative.  

Bridges said Montgomery County School District and Winona Christian School have both joined in the effort to promote early childhood literacy.  In fact, from February 6 until 24, all three elementary schools will hold a Change Challenge for Literacy.

Bridges said the challenge will consist of students bringing pennies to school for the first week, nickels to school for the second week, and dimes to school for the third week.

“A pizza party will be held at each school for the grade that raised the most money,” Bridges said.

Bridges said without public participation, Bookworms to Butterflies could not succeed.

“We are asking folks to donate books,” Bridges said.  

Donation bins are available at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Winona City Hall, Winona School District’s Support Services Office, and The Winona Times.  Bridges said she is working on drop off sites in Duck Hill and Kilmichael.

“We hope to plan a major event each month,” said Bridges. “We need to collect books so we can give books to children at the special events.  Every child that comes to an event will get a book to take home.”

To donate or volunteer for Bookworms to Butterflies, contact Bridges at 662-283-1000.