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Success Story: Creating a Culture of Reading

McKenzie, TN – As a high-achieving school, McKenzie Elementary School has a problem most districts dream about: how to show improvement when test scores are already better than state averages. “We have always had 5s in achievement, but struggled to improve our growth score,” says Carol Nanney, the librarian at McKenzie. “This year, our growth score in literature increased from a 1 to a 3. Big Universe has sparked excitement in our students.”

Big Universe Expands Literacy Beyond Library Bookshelves

While test scores have been consistently encouraging, McKenzie struggles with budgetary issues and a low-income student population. Big Universe provided Nanney with the unique opportunity to vastly expand her library at a price she could afford. “The number and quality of books is a tremendous value,” Nanney says. “With the rising cost of printed text, we would never be able to have this many books.”

Like in many schools, reading often struggles to cross over to home. “Not all of our students have access to texts or internet at home,” Nanney explains. “I started Family Library Nights to address this.” Students and their families are free to browse the library and read together. “Big Universe has been a big hit,” says Nanney. “Parents enjoy helping their children select books for their bookshelves and reading in this fun environment.”

Nanney is also cognisant of the rapid shift to digital technology and notes that many students are more interested in reading from a computer or tablet. “Students ask to login every day,” she says. “My main goal is to expose my students to as much literature as possible. Big Universe is totally worth the cost.”

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