In rather heartwarming news, bestselling novelist James Patterson is working with Scholastic Book Clubs to tackle literacy inequity. On Monday, Scholastic announced that Patterson had donated $1.5 million to help launch “The United States of Readers,” a classroom initiative created to address the needs of children in Title 1 schools. According to Scholastic, the program will get books into the hands of 32,000 kids nationwide, grades K-8, from low-income families.
“I’ve been working my entire career to get kids reading because I believe that illiteracy is one of the biggest challenges our country faces,” Patterson said in a statement. “And in many cases, kids simply need access to books—and especially books they want to read—to fall in love with reading, characters, and stories. Through my partnership with Scholastic these past seven years, we’ve made some great strides to do that. And I’m particularly excited about this new program as it will bring books to those schools and communities that need them the most, and ones that we haven’t served before.”
It’s no secret that Patterson has a dedicated interest in combating illiteracy. In September of last year, Patterson made headlines for awarding thousands of teachers with $500 grants to foster and strengthen students’ reading skills.
And in an interview for multimedia outlet Big Think, Patterson discussed his partnership with the University of Florida and expressed his sincere belief in the transformative power of literature: “I really mean it when I say that we can save lives—and thousands of lives. If we do this thing in Florida we will save thousands of lives in Florida. And any state that can solve the problem [of literary inequity] is going to save thousands of lives. Plus you can improve the economics of the state because you’re going to have that many more people who can go out into the workforce, that have choices . . . It’s a hugely important thing. And I think it’s kind of a sacred mission.”
Thus far, Patterson has donated more than $10 million to teachers and students through Scholastic.
For more information about The United States of Readers, visit the program’s website.