By CBS Baltimore Staff

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Amazon is donating thousands of books to students in Baltimore and other parts of the country for Children’s Book Week to promote childhood literacy. 

Volunteers from local Amazon facilities visited Billie Holiday School Elementary School in West Baltimore on Tuesday to hand out some of the books and read to students. 

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“Our goal at Amazon is to donate over 20,000 books to Title 1 schools throughout this week,” Haley Davis, the director of operations at the company’s Sparrows Point facility, said.

Title 1 Schools are schools where children from low-income families make up at least 40 percent of enrollment. 61% of low-income families have no books at all in their homes for their children, according to Scholastic’s “Access to Books” report.  

Both the company volunteers and school employees told WJZ that their goal is to get the students excited about reading.  

“We want to start them off young with reading books and get them excited about reading, excited about learning,” Community Schools Sites Coordinator Kori Leach said.

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A National Assessment of Educational Progress report from 2019 shows that about 80% of fourth-grade African American students are not at reading at grade level. 

Studies show that students who enter the fourth grade below reading level are four times more likely to drop out of high school compared to those who are reading at grade level. 

“We are a Pre-K to second-grade school, so we are a foundation of literacy here,” Denisha Logan, the principal of the elementary school, said.

Amazon is planning to distribute more than 3,500 books in Baltimore City Public Schools throughout the week.  

“They’re giving people books that really need books,” Jaevion Lee, a first-grade student at the school, said.

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An Amazon spokesperson said some of the books being donated will be given directly to schools while other donations will be given directly to students who can take them home.

CBS Baltimore Staff