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UHV children’s book drive brings in many donations

Fred Litton, dean of the University of Houston-Victoria School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development, shows off some of the books donated to the Books for Beginners campaign. Litton estimates at least a thousand books have been donated so far.

The University of Houston-Victoria School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development office is filling up with books.

After researching U.S. child literacy rates, Fred Litton, dean of the school, decided to start Books for Beginners, a book drive aimed at gathering books for children up to age 4. The drive began in February and is drawing to a close. Although there is not yet an official count, Litton estimates more than a thousand books were donated.

“I was really surprised by the number of donations, and there are still some coming in,” Litton said. “My grandchildren are going to contribute a box full of books. It’s a nice program for kids who have a lot of books in the home. They can feel good about sharing their books with other kids who might not have any. It’s a good life lesson for them.”

In addition to donated books, some members of the community have contributed money to purchase books. Litton plans to buy books that can be used by Spanish-speaking or bilingual families.

Many lower-income families don’t have access to books in the home, Litton said. Without books, children aren’t read to, which can cause them to fall behind their peers.

Once all the books are collected in the next week or two, Litton will bring them to Robert Jaklich, Victoria Independent School District superintendent, who will distribute the books.

“This latest endeavor to bring books to our youngest readers is yet another example of the powerful impact UHV has in our community,” Jaklich said. “The ability to read is critical to the success of every student, and placing these books into the hands of children opens doors to their imagination and stimulates their natural curiosity to learn. We are extremely grateful to the staff and students of UHV who supported this drive. Their efforts truly serve as a ‘Champion for our Children,’ and we appreciate their excellence.”

The UHV School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development is looking for more outreach opportunities for the fall semester. Litton wants to continue his focus on expanding literacy in the community, especially since the school recently hired two faculty members focused on literacy issues.

One option the school is considering is a free literacy clinic for children in the Victoria community. Whatever the next project turns out to be, Litton is pleased to see such a strong response to the Books for Beginners campaign.

“This wasn’t meant to be a major campaign,” Litton said. “It was just something our school wanted to do to promote literacy in our community.”

Books and other donations still can be delivered to the UHV School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development in Room 228 of UHV University West, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St. A book is available for people to sign who wish to be acknowledged as contributing to the campaign, and labels with donors’ names will be placed inside donated books.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to 70 bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as a teaching center in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities, and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.