How We started
Kelsey Clarke, Kindergarten Teacher at Washington GT Magnet Elementary
Chris Tuttell, Library Media Specialist at Southeast Raleigh Elementary
How We Started
We met at Washington GT Magnet Elementary in the Spring of 2015 and immediately connected over our passion for literacy. Connecting kids with books is important to us. More importantly connecting kids with books that they can see themselves in. When kids can see themselves in books they know they matter, they aren't alone and they have stories that deserve to be told. Connecting kids to stories can transform their lives and igniting a desire to be a lifelong reader is something that drives both of us everyday!
We have seen first hand the positive impact book ownership can have on kids. And we know that the number of books in a child's home has a direct impact on the educational level they will achieve. In fact research shows that children raised in a home with a 500 book library will go further in their educational career (3+ more years) than their peers. We know book ownership has a profound effect on the future of our kids! We also know that having the financial stability to invest in books is a challenge for many of the families we serve.
For years we have collected books and sent them home with kids in their backpacks but we knew we were only impacting our population at Washington GT Magnet Elementary. We wanted to make a larger impact in the Southeast Raleigh Community but we weren't sure how. Then in June 2018 we saw a post on Twitter about a librarian, who was collecting gently used books and visiting a local coffee shop in her area so kids could gain access to books over the summer. We thought, we could do that! In less than a week we hatched our plan and Raleigh's Rolling Readers was born.
We had Chris' minivan but we needed more books than either of us had and we needed manpower to collect books and help us deliver them. So we appealed to teachers throughout Wake County, put a call out on Twitter, and visited local thrift stores for books. The support we received was overwhelming! Our very first stop was to the summer camps at Chavis Park and we continued throughout the summer visiting the Poe Center, Historic Oak View Park, summer feeding sites, parks, and WCPSS Read to Achieve Camps. We gave away over 3,000 books which would not have been possible if not for the dedication and generosity of the amazing volunteers that support our efforts.
In fact, our bookmobile was so well received that we decided we couldn't end our efforts when the summer ended. We met with many of our dedicated volunteers and decided that we needed to continue the momentum as we headed back to school. After all, kids need books all year long! So in August 2018 we committed to monthly community events throughout the school year.
We could never have imagined, less than one year later, we would have an official non-profit, dedicated volunteers committed to helping us fulfill our mission, thousands of dollars raised through our Go Fund Me page and over 10,000 books in the hands of Southeast Raleigh kids.