St. Petersburg, Florida – February 26, 2020 – The WORD! Initiative and Keep St. Pete Lit!, are bringing families free access to culturally inclusive and celebratory books through WORD! Book Boxes, a free book exchange program.The goal is to improve literacy rates, instill pride of self, and promote a scholarly culture within the children living in south St. Petersburg neighborhoods.
The program is a partnership between the WORD! Initiative, a collective of Black Women dedicated to organizing real discussions and transformative experiences through Arts & Culture and Keep St Pete Lit! which celebrates and promotes greater St. Petersburg’s literary community – past, present and future – through arts, education and events with a literary twist.
There are currently 4 host sites:
Community Health Centers of Pinellas, Johnnie Ruth Clarke location -1344 22nd St S, St. Petersburg, FL 33712.
Thomas “Jet” Jackson Recreation Center-1000 28th St S, St. Petersburg, FL 33712
Childs Park Recreation Center-4301 13th Ave S, St. Petersburg, FL 33711
Jordan Park Apartments – 1245 Jordan Park St. S. St. Petersburg, FL 33712
The team will host a public reveal and ribbon cutting for their WORD! Book Boxes in celebration of Read Across America Day on Monday, March 2, open to the public.
The reveal will take place at:
11am – Community Health Centers of Pinellas, Johnnie Ruth Clarke location, near the lobby entrance.
6pm – Jordan Park Apartments, outside the club house across from the playground.
All sites will be fully stocked Monday with new and gently used books curated by Cultured Books owner, Lorielle J. Hollaway.
“Books are such an incredible tool for learning, imagination and creation, but many kids don’t have access to books that affirm who they are and encourage all they can be” says Leigh K. Davis, co-founder of the WORD! Initiative and advisory board member with Cultured Books. “By placing the WORD! Book Boxes in the areas that kids live, play and receive healthcare, and by stocking them with books that contain affirming images of and storylines about children of color, we can encourage our youth to develop a greater understanding of themselves and their belonging in the world.”
“We believe ALL children should have access to books. Through reading kids learn valuable language and literacy skills. It helps them develop vocabulary and writing skills, stronger social skills, and helps them to better understand and process more complex ideas. Reading expands their ability to build knowledge overall – not just in subjects like English and language arts.
Another bonus? Teens who read for fun are also better able to clarify their career goals and understand the consequences of risky behavior. This is why getting books into the hands of as many kids as possible is our goal.” -Maureen McDole, Executive Director of Keep St. Pete Lit
To keep money in the local community all new books are purchased through Cultured Books, a pop-up children’s bookstore, with a mission to foster self love and broaden world views. It is a woman owned, African-American St. Pete bookstore.
If you are a business interested in becoming a host site or would like to make a tax-deductible donation towards the purchase of culturally inclusive and uplifting books please visit keepstpetelit.com/donate. We also welcome gently used children’s book donations.
Thank you to our sponsors AARP-Tampa Bay and J Crayton Pruitt Foundation.
Contact: Lorielle J. Hollaway