Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation Announces 2nd Annual Summer K-3 Book Delivery Program, Delivering 500,000 Books Directly to Tennessee Students & Teachers at Home

110,000 teachers and students statewide, including every rising first grader, will benefit from the program as part of GELF’s “Stop the Slide!” campaign to combat summer learning loss

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. & SAVANNAH, Tenn.--()--To combat summer learning loss in Tennessee and support student learning in the home, Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) today announced the second year of its K-3 Book Delivery program to deliver 500,000 books to teachers and students statewide, including every rising first grader in Tennessee. In collaboration with Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education, and media company, 110,000 rising first through third grade students and teachers across the state each will receive a pack of high-quality, age-appropriate books this summer. The packs will be delivered directly to their homes, at no cost to families or school districts.

This announcement kicks off GELF’s “Stop the Slide!” campaign to promote a summer of active young readers and combat the proverbial “summer slide,” a term used to describe the learning loss that students can experience when out of school, a dynamic compounded by several months of remote learning during the academic year. Research shows that two to three months of proficiency is lost for students who do not read over the summer, but reading four to six books has the potential to stop, mitigate, or reverse this “summer slide.”

GELF President James Pond will be joined by Chris Hedrick, Senior Vice President of Sales, Scholastic Education Solutions, at East Brainerd Elementary School in Chattanooga on June 15 and at Northside Elementary School in Savannah on June 16 to officially kick off the “Stop the Slide!” campaign and announce the K-3 Book Delivery program at schools that will benefit. Local mascots will help distribute books to students and teachers in attendance.

“The value of summer reading carries extra weight this summer, as time spent in classrooms was inconsistent for so many children over the last year,” said James Pond of GELF. “Our mission to strengthen literacy in Tennessee has never been more meaningful, and collaborative partnerships aligned with our shared vision have never been more valuable. We are grateful for the State of Tennessee for underwriting the K-3 Book Delivery program and for the additional support from our corporate partners. Through this program, we will equip thousands of Tennessee children with books and innovative literacy tools that encourage lifelong learning for a brighter future. It’s more than books. It’s the future of Tennessee.”

Thirty-three percent of Tennessee third graders read proficiently. Earlier this year, the Tennessee Department of Education and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee shared data that third grade reading proficiency is expected to drop by more than 50% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic preventing in-person learning at school. Additional challenges such as lack of access to broadband and parents being pressured to fulfill work responsibilities exacerbated the classroom void.

This marks GELF’s third collaboration with Scholastic to deliver books and resources to students and teachers outside of school. GELF launched the K-3 Book Delivery program in 2020, serving 30,000+ students and teachers during the summer and 58,000 during the fall with positive outcomes reported.

  • 97% of caregivers reported liking the books and using them in the home.
  • 95% of teachers reported referencing or using the books during instruction.
  • 94% of students reported liking the books and using them in the home.

One educator said, “This is one of the most beneficial initiatives for increasing literacy that I have witnessed as an educator.” The success of previous collaborations spurred GELF and Scholastic to explore ways to reach even more students this summer.

“Findings from the Scholastic Teacher & Principal School Report show that 96% of educators agree that providing year-round access to books at home is important to enhancing student achievement. Books can also be a powerful source of social-emotional support to help kids find a sense of belonging and comfort during a challenging time, or spark curiosity through new adventures and characters,” said Chris Hedrick, Senior Vice President of Sales, Scholastic Education Solutions. “We are honored to continue this important work with GELF to break down barriers to book access for children across the state of Tennessee, and help ensure that joyful reading continues throughout the summer.”

The K-3 Book Delivery program is underwritten by the State of Tennessee with key support from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation and additional support from Dollar General Literacy Foundation and Amazon.

“We recognize the importance of childhood literacy, and we understand that, unfortunately, many Tennessee students may not have access to books, particularly during the summer when school is not in session,” said Chelsea Johnson, director of the BlueCross Foundation. “We hope this grant will help get books into the hands of more of our state’s children, allowing them to maintain and expand critical reading skills, even when they’re not in class.”

To help “Stop the Slide!,” GELF encourages families to utilize their other statewide early literacy programs this summer. In addition to book packs being mailed directly to children at home, GELF invites families to engage their children with over 21 Storybook Trails across the state. The Storybook Trails bring classic stories to life in outdoor settings that showcase Tennessee’s natural beauty, from Cheekwood in Nashville to Montgomery Bell State Park in Burns. GELF Book Buses will also be back in service this summer, bringing high quality literacy resources to children and communities. Tennesseans are encouraged to join GELF’s “Booker’s Book Club” on social media this summer by posting photos of their children reading with the hashtags #BookersBookClubTN #StoptheSlideTN. For more information, visit

About GELF

Governor's Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) equips Tennessee's children with books and innovative literacy tools that encourage lifelong learning for a brighter future. GELF is a nonpartisan 501c3 driven by a mission to strengthen early literacy in Tennessee by acting as a thought leader, advisor, and catalyst for programs across the state. These programs include Birth-5 Book Delivery through Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, K-3 Book Delivery, Caregiver Engagement, Book Buses, and Storybook Trails. GELF was founded in 2004 by former Gov. Phil Bredesen as a public-private partnership to sustain Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Tennessee. GELF has grown from solely a book-gifting program to an early literacy organization driven by a vision where all Tennessee children have access to the resources, guidance, and support they need to become lifelong learners. For more information, visit or, or call toll-free at (877) 99-BOOKS.

About Scholastic

For more than 100 years, Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) has been encouraging the personal and intellectual growth of all children, beginning with literacy. Having earned a reputation as a trusted partner to educators and families, Scholastic is the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books, a leading provider of literacy curriculum, professional services, and classroom magazines, and a producer of educational and entertaining children's media. The Company creates and distributes bestselling books and e-books, print and technology-based learning programs for pre-K to grade 12, and other products and services that support children's learning and literacy, both in school and at home. With 15 international operations and exports to 165 countries, Scholastic makes quality, affordable books available to all children around the world through school-based book clubs and book fairs, classroom libraries, school and public libraries, retail, and online. Learn more at

About BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation, Inc.

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation organized to promote the philanthropic mission of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. It has awarded $120 million in grants since 2005. The foundation provides funding for the BlueCross Healthy Place program, which creates active, healthy spaces across Tennessee.


Whitney Topping
(212) 920-1557


Whitney Topping
(212) 920-1557