WEST PALM BEACH — Renowned Author James Patterson, the Palm Beach resident who holds the New York Times and Guinness World Book records for most hardcover fiction bestselling titles by a single author, is financing a grant to create unique book clubs in three Palm Beach County middle schools.
The $48,500 grant will finance the purchase of thousands of new books in John F. Kennedy, H.L. Watkins and Pahokee middle schools.
It is the latest effort in an ongoing campaign by Patterson, who has partnered with the Palm Beach County School District in several projects since 2004 to get students reading.
“If you give kids books they want to read, they’ll read more,” he said. “I want to help do that.”
The books will be selected from large book lists, created by teachers, media specialists and district literacy staff to appeal to reluctant as well as experi-
In addition to those books, Patterson is donating another 200 books to each of the schools and to Suncoast High School.
After working hard to get his own son reading more, Patterson's idea is to give kids a relaxing place to read for enjoyment. Specially-trained teachers will lead the book clubs and help students select books and work through any reading barriers they might have.
Patterson has shown an affinity for books as well as kids. He spoke and gave books to thousands of middle school students at the Kravis Center in 2004.
This year he spoke to hundreds of students at JFK Middle School and Suncoast High School about reading and writing and gave away thousands of books to students in all Palm Beach County middle and high schools.
He also had a group of students transported to The Society of the Four Arts in the town of Palm Beach to participate in a webcast about a bestseller he wrote of kids, Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life.
Among the tips Patterson offers parents about getting kids reading are:
• Don’t leave the burden with schools — It’s your job to get kids excited about reading.
• Read more. Here's a simple but powerful truth that many parents and schools don't act on: The more kids read, the better readers they become.
• Pick out books they’ll love. Kids say the number one reason they don't read more is because they can’t find books they like. The best way to get kids reading is to give them books they'll gobble up.
• Where can I find great books? And free books? ReadKiddoRead.com,
GuysRead.com, Oprah.com, Young Adult Library Services Association and American Library Association sites. Where to find free or low-cost books: ReadKiddoRead.com, FirstBook.org and ReadertoReader.org
• Don’t discriminate. Freedom of choice is key: Comics, re-reading a book, easy books and hard books are all fair game. Don't say no if the book is helping a kid get into the reading habit.
For more information contact Nat Harrington, Palm Beach County School District Public Affairs, 561-434-8227.
*Pictured above is author James Patterson