As human beings, we are constantly looking for ways to improve. It is in our nature to want to be a little better tomorrow than we are today. Whether it is becoming more efficient with our energy use, extending our life expectancy, or increasing literacy rates, we are all working to raise the bar.
And the business of personal growth and development is booming. From yoga classes to podcasts, we seem to be looking for ways to improve ourselves. In fact, according to Marketdata Enterprises Inc., self-improvement books represent an $800 million market that’s growing 6% per year.
At Book Trust, our teachers and students inspire us to continuously improve. An assistant principal from the Bronx recently shared this story with us:
I have a parent who told me this morning her 3rd grade daughter has always told her she hates reading. The mother said she couldn’t even get her daughter to pick up a book let alone read one. It was a sad thing to hear about one so young. But mom added that since Book Trust has come into the home, her daughter has now begun to hold onto her books, pick them up, and talk about what the story is probably about by looking at the picture on the cover. Mom said the next step is to have her begin to read a little of the book to see if her predictions are true. They are tiny, baby steps, but giant size strides in developing in her a love for reading. Another great thing Book Trust has done for one of my children. Being able to choose a book that resonates with you, which is one of the reasons Book Trust is so special, has made a difference for her. She will now not only open a book, but soon her mind will follow.
Our goal is to ensure that Book Trust is that catalytic agent that turns students who proclaim that they “hate reading” into students with insatiable reading appetites.
In order to realize this goal, we must provide great value to our students and their families as well as to our teachers, principals, and school districts. This year, we prioritized our evaluation resources on classroom observations. We have a defined program model that is implemented across thousands of classrooms in America. From small rural towns in Sand Point, Idaho, to large urban communities like New York City, we have been visiting classrooms to observe what is working well and what we could be doing better. Our goal is to identify the parts of the program that add the greatest value so that we can replicate this value at even greater scale. We are learning what we can do differently to support teachers more effectively and which parts of the program are driving the most change for students. We are listening to our teachers and students through targeted focus groups to determine the most effective way to create the greatest value and impact for our schools. This value is why donors choose to invest in the work we are doing. And, it is why schools and school districts are choosing to pay small program fees to bring the program to their schools.
Igniting a love for reading in kids starts with helping students find their passion.
As students have the chance to choose and own books they are interested in, they become motivated and engaged readers. This is the first step in becoming a successful reader. And, the more students have a chance to practice reading, they become better readers. As we conclude our evaluation this summer, the results will be used to tweak our program. Small refinements along the way are necessary to ensure we are optimizing the chance to create the greatest change for our students. The lessons we are learning remind us of the importance of our work, and what an honor it is to make a difference in the lives of the kids we serve.
This cycle of continuous improvement is one that Book Trust is forever committed to as we grow as an organization and deliver upon our promise to develop lifelong Readers and Learners whose minds are opened through books.