TAMPA, Fla — As back to school looms and parents decide whether to home school or send their children back to a traditional learning environment, the need for normalcy remains. That includes keeping avenues to reading open for children whether they're at home or in a classroom.
Lorielle J. Hollaway, owner of Cultured Books in St. Pete, is spearheading a literacy initiative called, “The Book Report Project" that removes the financial barrier for some looking to access books by allowing youth to purchase books with alternative currency, like a book report.
"We wanted this to be easy and accessible for all. The way it works, a child will turn in the book report on the book that they read and they pick out another book so it goes on from month to month," said Hollaway.
Here’s how it works, kids are given an initial survey, in exchange for a completed survey students are able to select one book to keep. After the kids read their chosen book, they will then create a book report and turn in their book report in exchange for a new book.
Keosha Jenkins loves the initiative and all that it's doing to keep kids reading. She's encouraged her three children to read more often and enjoys using Cultured Books as a resource.
"My oldest son, Korion, likes to read the Cultured Books and teach his little sisters about everything he read and learned. He likes to read a loud now," said Jenkins.
Research shows that the average cost of a children’s book in 2018 was around $18.69. That's why Cultured Books has set a fundraising goal of $30,000. It launched a crowdfunding campaign on iFundWomen, a platform that supports women entrepreneurs, so the book store can accept book reports as a permanent form of currency.
"In order to do this we need to show the impact our project has on elevating literacy rates, " said Hollaway.
Cultured Books is open to the public and following the CDC guidelines, requesting that all patrons wear a mask. They're located at 833 22nd Street South in St. Petersburg.
To see more of their reading selection click here.
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