March 17, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

James Patterson and Scholastic Name First Winners of School Library Grants


Students at P.S. 62, in the Richmond Hill section of Queens, NY, whose library received one of the grants.

James Patterson and the Scholastic Reading Club revealed the names of the first 127 schools to win Pledge to Libraries Grants, announced by the author and the publisher earlier this year. Each school earned between $1,000 and $10,000, totaling $500,000. The author also announced that he will increase his overall pledge to school libraries, from $1.5 million to $1.75 million.

More than 28,000 private and public schools submitted grant applications online. In order to apply, they answered one question: “What would your school library do with $1,000 to $10,000?”

The responses varied, but school representatives often wrote about budgets that could no longer pay for staffed librarians, shelves, books, and other materials.Many also expressed the hope that the continuing needs of students would be met.

“It just so happens that circulation activity at the Brighton (MA) High School (BHS) library is higher than any other Boston public high school,” said Patrick Tutwiler, headmaster of BHS, in a statement. “These funds will indeed enhance and expand the BHS library offerings. We are excited, as our kids deserve nothing less than a top-notch library…. All of the evidence points to the fact that libraries are on life-support. This is so nationwide, and in inner cities particularly.”


The Shades Valley High School in Birmingham, AL, also received a grant. Photo from school librarian Carolyn Jo Starkey

Scholastic Reading Club is matching each grant dollar with Scholastic Bonus Points that teachers can use for classroom materials and books.

At P.S 62, a Title 1 school in the Richmond Hill section of Queens, NY, 86 percent of the students are living in poverty. School librarian and grant recipient Teresa O’Brien-Israel talked about the difficulty her young charges face in getting their hands on books.

“Many of our families do not have the money to purchase books, and our local public library is not in close proximity to our school,” she said in a statement. “Our school library must be our students’ window to the world. Unfortunately, our books have an average copyright date of 2002, and the number of titles in our library is woefully inadequate.”

The winning elementary and high schools span the nation, from Eastside Elementary in Lake City, FL, to Vines High School in Plano, TX, to Loma Vista Middle School in Riverside, CA. The remaining $1.25 million will be awarded in additional stages throughout 2015.

“I’ve now read over a thousand letters from school librarians, teachers, and parents about the lack of resources at our country’s schools,” Patterson said in a statement. “How will children make it to high school without access to books? This is a huge problem—and we have to take action. I hope that education will become a major topic on Capitol Hill and in the upcoming presidential debates.”

Watch a thank-you video from Rhonda Massengale, library media specialist at W. P. Davidson High School in Mobile, AL. 
Lauren Barack About Lauren Barack

School Library Journal contributing editor Lauren Barack writes about the connection between media and education, business, and technology. A recipient of the Loeb Award for online journalism, she can be found at



  1. Nicole K says:

    When will other grant awardees be announced?