What difference does a book make? A lot.  Researchers find a strong correlation between a child’s success in school and the number of books available at home.

In a study of factors for academic success in forty-two countries, sociologist Mariah Evans compared results across cultures, economic levels and educational attainment of parents. According to Evans, “Regardless of how many books the family already has, each addition to the home library helps children do better…This held true even after parents’ occupations, education, and family wealth were taken into account…A home with books as an integral part of the way of life encourages children to read for pleasure and encourages discussion among family members about what they have read.”

The greatest impact on academic performance occurs in families with little education and low-status occupations.  Books provide children with information, vocabulary, imaginative richness, wide horizons, and skills for discovery and play. According to the findings, poor children benefit the most from adding books at home.

Books are especially important during the summer months. Many of our children are vulnerable to “Summer Slide,” a loss of academic skills which occurs when there is a lack of mental stimulation during the summer. Luckily, your neighbors are coming to the rescue with new books for kids in Dona Ana County. Volunteers are taking to the parks, libraries, schools and day care centers to distribute books and provide story time. Children’s Reading Foundation is providing 13,000 books through Innovative Approaches to Learning, a federal grant designed to improve educational opportunities for children ages birth through eight years old.

Rhonda Karol, Read Up! coordinator for Doña Ana County, has established book distribution sites in Las Cruces, Hatch, Anthony, Organ and Chaparral.

In Las Cruces

Free books at story times are available at Branigan Library this month. On Tuesdays, activities for 3 year olds through 5 year olds are at 10:30 am July 15 through August 5.

On Wednesdays at 10 am and again at 11 am free books will be available at the programs for two year olds and babies beginning July 16 and ending August 6.

Toddlers are invited to pick out a book on Thursdays July 17 through August 7.

Las Cruces Parks and Recreation Department is distributing books as part of the summer recreation program.

Children in Las Cruces Public Schools will participate in Read Up! at the 16 elementary schools with K-3 Plus programs, and the Extended School Year program. Community volunteers will be guest readers at story time at these schools once each week.

Day care facilities that are participating are Precious Little Ones, and Little Playmates.

Veronica Carmona of Ngage New Mexico , and Nancy Coles at Community  Action Agency are providing book give away events.


Lorena Saenz will host story times and free books on Wednesdays July 9 through 30 at noon and 12:45 at Tierra del Sol, during the lunch program.

Also in Anthony, Andele Tutors and the New Mexico Children’s Foundation are sponsoring Summer Reading Camp at the Women’s Intercultural Center.


Lisa Neal hosts two story times with book give away opportunities on Tuesdays. Preschoolers are invited to participate mornings from 10:30-11, and a story time for 5- 8 year olds will be offered at 1:30-2:30 pm.


On Tuesdays, Ida Garcia is at Chaparral Family Development Center to host Story Time at 8:30 am and distribute free books at 9 am.


At the Organ Community center, Richard Portillo will be reading stories and giving books during the Summer Program.