In Tawnya Veit's first-grade class, students clustered around volunteers who read books to them Friday morning as part of a reading celebration at East Elementary School.
Veit said research shows kids who have been read to will start reading on their own at an earlier age. But not all of her students come in with reading skills, and some of them don't have books at home.
First Book, a nonprofit organization that serves programs for low-income families, donated 6,250 books to Jefferson City area schools and programs on behalf of Wipro, an IT management company, according to a news release from First Book.
A total of 35,000 books were donated to five communities across the country that have Title 1 or low-income schools and programs, according to the release.
Five hundred of those books were donated to East Elementary as part of a $1,000 credit from First Book, said Rachel Kanter, manager for strategic alliances at First Book.
With that money, East purchased those books from First Book at a 90 percent discounted price and have a residual $790 left that the school plans to use for purchasing more books later in the year.
Carrie Martin, the school's library media specialist, said she picked books that were popular among the students that may not be available in the school's library.
Many of the books are superhero, Disney princess or seasonal-related, she said, and students in preschool through third grade will get to take two books home with them.
A mix of seven kindergarten and first-grade classrooms had Wipro volunteers reading to the students to get them engaged in reading.
Veit said she reads to her class twice a day, and they read to her as well.
By the time students leave first grade, the goal is to have them reading a level 18 book, which has more complex words and sentences. There are also fewer pictures, so students are less reliant on the images, Veit said.
"I always tell them (my students) that it's my favorite part of the day," she said. "I think to have community members come in and read, it's not just the teachers telling them to read, but community members reinforcing that."