Free books make children smile outside of Miami-Dade public school

Big Book Drive-Thru benefits Charles R. Drew K-8 Center students

MIAMI – To follow social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic, the Local 10 News’ My Future, My Choice Big Book Drive is co-hosting drive-thru events on Tuesday and Wednesday. The team’s first stop is at Charles R. Drew K-8 Center in Brownsville, near Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood.

Volunteers with the Embrace Girls Foundation helped the Local 10 News’ team to distribute books to drivers who were lining up to collect free food. The school has about 625 students and more than 90% of them are eligible for the federal school lunch program for households with incomes below 130% of the poverty level.

Big Book Drive-Thru benefits students in Miami’s Liberty City

The students at this school also struggle with literacy. Raymond Sands, the principal at Charles R. Drew K-8 Center, said he worries about younger students falling behind in reading during the summer break.

Only 32% of the school’s third-grade students, 22% of fourth-graders, and 29% of fifth-graders passed the English Language Arts’ section of the Florida Standards Assessments exam, according to the Florida Department of Education 2017-18 data.

“When you have the additional three months now that the kids have been out from that face-to-face live instruction, having that book, having that textbook to keep them reading, to keep them comprehending will have a tremendous impact,” Sands said.

The Big Book Drive has already distributed more than 125,000 books to children in need in South Florida. For five years, Vera Cadillac has been the sponsor of the program to promote literacy among children in need who are more at risk of experiencing gun violence in their communities.

About the Author:

Mayte Padron Cordones is an Emmy-award winning journalist and the director of WPLG's Community Relations Department, overseeing the station's outreach initiatives to benefit and strengthen the South Florida community.