A LETTER TO OUR DONORS:
At Tree House Books, it is important to us that we take time out to thank you, our supporters. The work we do at Tree House Books is only possible with your participation, whether it be as donors, volunteers, program partners or participants. Below is a comprehensive look at our programs, and our progress during the first half of 2017. If you would like to know more, or if you would like to schedule a tour of our facility, please email Karen@treehousebooks.org. We hope to see you soon!
Tree House Books is a non-profit Giving Library and Literacy Center on a mission to grow and sustain a community of readers, writers, and thinkers in Philadelphia. Founded in 2005, our purpose is twofold: to provide access to books, and literacy programs that promote a lifelong love of reading and writing in the children and families we serve. We support the crucial role families play in creating a literacy-rich environment, and actively work to promote families reading together in the home.
ACCESS TO BOOKS
Currently, there is just one age-appropriate book for every 300 children in Philadelphia’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. Over 13,000 third-graders in Philadelphia’s public schools are not reading on grade-level, making them 87% more likely to drop out of high school. Many district school libraries have been forced to close their doors due to budget cuts, or don’t have the resources to keep librarians on staff. These alarming statistics are why Tree House Books has made Access to Books the roots out of which we grow our Literacy Programs; children can’t learn to read if they don’t have books in their homes.
BOOKS IN EVERY HOME
Our Books in Every Home campaign began with the ambitious goal of collecting and distributing 50,000 books to homes in need throughout Philadelphia in 2017. Our overall objective is to build to an annual distribution rate of 200,000 books by 2020 so that every child, every family, has books in their homes. So far this year, we have already collected over 54,000 books, and distributed over 42,000!
In order to do this, we have enlisted the support of individuals and businesses in the community who hold book drives on our behalf. We have been overwhelmed (in the best way!) by the support and enthusiasm for this initiative, and have been able to expand our reach throughout the city and into the surrounding areas.
BOOKS OUT OUR GIVING LIBRARY In response to community need, our Giving Library is now open six days a week, from 11-7 Monday through Friday, and 10-3 on Saturdays, allowing families in our neighborhood additional evening hours, as well as an additional weekend day, to come in and browse for books together. Over 550 new people have come into the Giving Library since January, 2017, something we credit in part to the expanded opportunities these extra hours provide. We have grown our pool of volunteer librarians to 45, not only to accommodate the increased hours, but also to address the need for increased customer service. Our volunteers help people find books, and enjoy lively conversations about reading and writing, creating an atmosphere of enthusiasm around books, reading and writing.
VISITS TO THE TREE HOUSE Our Visits to the Tree House provide a crucial point of entry for children who go to schools where there are no libraries and do not have books in their homes. They come with their class or camp group on a two-hour field trip, where we share our love for reading and writing with them through activities that include storytime, music, dancing, crafts, and creative writing. They receive a copy of the storytime book, as well as a bundle of carefully curated additional books, to take home and share with their family.
Visits to the Tree House provide a child- centered atmosphere where children are free to explore reading and writing in creative ways. However, our goal is for these visits to be their FIRST interaction with Tree House Books, which is why we offer incentives for our visitors to return again and again. These initial visits are not only an innovative way to help kids start their own personal library, but also a way for kids to discover a lifelong love of reading and writing that then grows with each return trip.
WORDS ON WHEELS Our summer book-delivery service is one crucial way we combat Summer Slide, the academic regression that happens over the summer, which is especially harmful to children who come from low-income backgrounds because they fall further behind their peers with every successive year. Volunteers with bikes and wagons deliver door-to-door throughout the neighborhood, pop up at playgrounds and rec centers during busy times, and take over street corners, with story-time and take-home libraries for all! This summer program has been a part of Tree House for the past four years, and we have given away thousands of books and forged strong connections in the community through this service.
Volunteers with wagons, on bikes, and on foot brought curated bundles of books, called Take-Home Libraries, to children in our neighborhood!
A special thank you to First Book Philadelphia for providing brand new books for kids of all ages - adults too!
FROM BIRTH TO HIGH SCHOOL - OUR LITERACY PROGRAMMING CONTINUUM: Having books in hand is only the first step and half of the story. Our Literacy Programming Continuum is specifically designed to work with children in stages, from ages 0 through 18. We focus on building literacy skills and fostering a love of reading and writing from the earliest moments, and then provide support for these skills to blossom as children grow in our community.
BUILDING BLOCKS OF LITERACY: AGES 0-3 Understanding the importance of early literacy, our programs look to build skills and engage children and their families from the very beginning with Read with Me. This program is a twice- weekly gathering of parents, guardians, and parents-to- be, and their little ones. Activities focus on both reading and oral language acquisition. Songs, games, storytime, and discussion facilitate skill-building and promote deep connections between children and their caregivers that positively impact brain development and long-term literacy achievement.
KINDERGARTEN READY: AGES 4-6 Tree House Sprouts, for ages 4-6, then hones in on building the specific skills of emerging readers and writers. Kids are given individualized instruction that enables them to grow confidence in their abilities, which directly impacts their enthusiasm for reading and writing. The Sprouts were incorporated into our camps this past Fall and Spring; however, in 2017, we held our first stand-alone workshop that speaks specifically to this age group. We have taken a closer look at this crucial period because it has the greatest impact on future academic success. Our aim is to lay an early foundation for Sprouts participants so that they are reading competently on grade-level in third grade, a crucial benchmark. Our model creates opportunity to succeed in school before our Sprouts even start kindergarten!
AN AGE OF EXPLORATION: AGES 7-12 Our Literacy Studio, which is currently running in Summer 2017 and again in the Fall, is an innovative approach to serving children ages 7-12. With this Montessori-model literacy instruction, we provide students with the freedom to drop in and “Choose Your Own Adventure”.
The program was professionally designed to be a fun, self-motivated, and self-directed experience. Children pursue their interests, whether they be Language Arts or STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) - oriented, building their skill set through creative endeavors. Students have the opportunity to read and write, both independently and in small groups, explore creative opportunities that utilize these skills, work one-to-one with mentors to set attainable goals, and have fun learning outside of school in an environment that is energizing and non-judgmental. This kind of self-accountability, in conjunction with a wide variety of learning opportunities, builds the crucial skills that lead to later academic and career success. Children can choose from a host of activity stations that offer such activities as writing and performing puppet shows, story writing, ‘flash fiction’ writing prompts, reading group discussion, word games, magnetic poetry boards, and technology to boost literacy skill acquisition. In allowing children to choose their activities and set goals for themselves, they become increasingly confident in their own abilities, and grow in self-awareness and personal accountability.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: AGES 13-18 Our Junior Librarian Program is a growing program that offers a select group of teens the opportunity to serve as a Tree House volunteer, while receiving one-to-one mentoring and learning about retail operations, nonprofit work, customer service, and more. Through this mentoring relationship we aim to empower teens with the tools and life skills to pursue their dreams!
FAMILY ENGAGEMENT Tree House Books is committed to supporting the crucial role families play in creating a city where all people have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. We do so through a variety of initiatives that encourage families to read together in the home. Throughout the year, we provide parent discussion groups and support, as well as informal social activities that include open houses, movie nights, game nights, and our annual Winter Wonderland Celebration. When families participate in reading and writing activities together, a literacy-rich culture evolves in the home that positively impacts the entire community.
PHILADELPHIA LITERACY DAY On behalf of Tree House Books, Philadelphia’s Mayor Kenney made an official proclamation: Saturday, May 13th, 2017 was Philadelphia Literacy Day! With this Tree House Books event, our goal was to bring together children and families, passionate book lovers, creative writers and artists, and other energized community members from around the city, to enjoy a fun-filled day while celebrating the joy of reading and writing.
HOW IS ALL THIS POSSIBLE? YOU! Because of you, children will have books to read in their homes this year. Because of you, these same children will have the tools they need to pursue their passions, empower their dreams and find the success and fulfillment that leads to a thriving community!