Thanks James Patterson!

Did James Patterson give money to your school library?
Posted on 12/19/2017
Picture of M.S. 137 Library Media Center

James Patterson — the Daddy Warbucks of American publishing — made good on his pledge to help school libraries today. The bestselling writer of thrillers announced $500,000 in grants to 127 schools across the country. This is just the first installment of a $1.75 million program to help libraries buy books, fund literary programs and make repairs.

In March, Patterson invited librarians, teachers and principals to apply for $1,000 to $10,000 grants. Scholastic Reading Club, a division of children’s publisher Scholastic, pledged to match each grant with bonus points that can be used for books and classroom materials.

More than 28,000 applications came pouring in.

“With nearly half the population currently reading at or below the basic level, the United States is truly in the middle of a crisis,” Patterson wrote in a statement released Tuesday morning. “How will children make it to high school without access to books? This is a huge problem — and we have to take action. I hope that education will become a major topic on Capitol Hill and in the upcoming presidential debates.”

Many of the applications to Patterson’s program mentioned budget cuts that had severely limited students’ access to books. Principals described schools without reading materials and even without libraries.

Carolyn Jo Starkey, a librarian at the Shades Valley High School in Irondale, Ala., told Patterson: “It has been about three-quarters of a decade since the school libraries in Alabama have received state funding to support our work and facilities. Like many other school libraries across our country, our collections and equipment have grown dated in content and fallen into general physical disrepair.”

Patterson was so moved by the applicants’ stories that he increased the size of his initial program from $1.25 million to $1.5 million and then to $1.75 million.