Working for Youth: North KC teachers give out free books to prevent ‘summer slide’

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Students work hard all school year, but come summer vacation, they're at risk for losing the achievements they've made.

According to the Brookings Institution, students can lose up to a month's worth of learning over summer break. That loss is sometimes called the summer slide.

To prevent that, Topping Elementary School started a Book Mobile. Teachers go out into the community and distribute free books to children.

The distributions happened over the month of July this year, at about three different locations. Monday's drop off was at Brighton Townhomes in North Kansas City.

The book mobile is stocked with books for babies, all the way up to books at an eighth grade reading level.

Mallory McCoy, who runs the program at Topping Elementary, said their efforts made a difference over the years in regards to reading levels.

"Kids either moved a level or stayed the same," McCoy said. "They didn't go down."

The former principal was in charge of the program. When she left two years ago, vocal music teacher McCoy took over to keep the success going.

"When I go knock on the doors to let them know we're here, parents will share with me how awesome their kid is doing or what grievances they may have," McCoy said.

Students can access books online anytime through a partnership with the Mid-Continent Library.

So for McCoy, the Book Mobile is as much about building a sense of community as it is about reading.

"It's about who they're getting the book from and building that relationship," McCoy said. "Relationship is so important. Relationship over content. I'm your teacher first. How can I help you? You're a person first how can I help you, and then let's get to the content. Let's get to the books."

Historically, the program has been funded through grants and a booster program at Topping Elementary. Monday's distribution was the last of this season.

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