Third-grade teachers at one Oklahoma City school say their students are in desperate need of books to read at home. They say the lack of books puts their students in danger of not passing state-mandated tests this spring.
Millwood Public Schools Superintendent says about 94 percent of the student body has free or reduced lunch. So for some parents, buying books for their children is not an option.
Teachers at Millwood Public Schools want learning to continue beyond the bell, but for many third-graders, reading books at home is not a possibility.
"In my class I try to implement my students to read 20 minutes every night, but at the same time, I can't require that because so many students are like ‘Ms. Jennings, I don't have any books at home,' and it's very, very sad," said third-grade teacher Christina Jennings.
"But sometimes, you know parents kind of have to choose between putting dinner on the table and buying books."
Jennings has taught at Millwood for a decade and this year is her first year teaching third grade. She says many parents aren't able to read to with their children or take them to the library. Jennings feels the lack of ample reading at home could set some students back come test time.
"If they don't pass the state test, they won't be able to go on to fourth grade, and then there's nothing parents can say anymore, so it's crucial they have books," Jennings said.
More than making the grade, teachers feel the more books students read at home has a direct effect on their self-esteem.
"When students are able to read on their level, there is an excitement they have, the students who are struggling who are not able to read on their level. They have low self-confidence," said third-grade teacher Helen Bennett, who has been at Millwood for seven years.
"We want all of our students to be confident readers, so it's very important for them to read at home."
That's why the school is calling on the community to donate books, books and more books to the third-grade classes.
"Non-fiction, fiction, any kind of books, things that third-graders are interested in," Jennings said. "We're not picky, just books that can take students to their world."
If you have any new or gently-used books you'd like to donate to the Millwood third graders, you can do so at the school at: 6718 Martin Luther King Ave., OKC, OK 73111 or by phone at 405-475-1004 and ask for the third-grade teachers.