Community Projects

Books for Kids

Why it began:

“Books for Kids” began in 1998 and is the local, leading distributor of free, new books for “kids” in Sparks. Modeled after a program in New Zealand called Books in Homes, we give almost 4,000 new books to Sparks’ children each year. In response to research that shows that students who test in the highest 10th percentile read over 2.3 million words per year, and those who test in the lowest 10th percentile read only about 51,000 words per year, we are committed to getting lots of books into the hands of students.

Who receives these books?

Our goal is to give a free book to every kindergartener, first grader, second grader, and fifth grader in elementary schools in Sparks whose students will eventually come to Sparks High School: Greenbrae, Robert Mitchell, Kate Smith, Lincoln Park, Alice Maxwell, Florence Drake, and Agnes Risely. All SHS-bound eighth grade students at Sparks Middle School and Dilworth Middle School receive a brand-new book. Also, every student at Sparks High School receives a new book every year!   

What our Future looks like:

We have ambitious plans and would welcome help from community people who want a rewarding experience giving books to these “kids” in Sparks.

What the Research Says:

Research has shown that children who own books—read them.  Those who read books improve critical thinking skills, vocabulary, confidence and an understanding of the larger world. These students who read will become the leaders of our country, our businesses, and our future.

Read for the Ride

“Read for the Ride” began in 1998 in response to the question, “What would motivate these kids to read?” Of course, no one can motivate another, but we can provide an environment in which folks can be influenced to read. Most teenagers want a car. So that is what we did; we gave them a car (or at least an opportunity to win a used car—given away each May).

Not only can they still win a car, but they can win computers, iPads, books, Kindles, and other items.

Every student enrolled in Sparks High School has an opportunity to win these items and a free car.  To earn tickets for the drawings to be held twice a year, a student must earn tickets by successfully books; their teachers confirm the student has successfully read them.

The cars are previously owned, but they all will have new upholstery (if needed), new paint, a new sound system and a reliable engine. They will also be detailed before the give-a-way. 

The best story from a past giveaway was told by his mother. She got home from work that day to find Jason sitting in the car he had won reading a book; (He was too young to drive it yet, but it was his!).

Reading is critical for academic and life success. According to Richard Allington, a nationally recognized expert in teaching reading, “A student who reads less than five minutes per day is only exposed to around 51,000 words per year and will likely rank in the 10th percentile.” Those who read several million words per year rank in the 90th or higher percentile.

Let’s strengthen this community-wide effort to make reading a priority in Sparks, Nevada. Get caught reading.