Shelby County educator trying to get thousands of books donated to children in South Memphis

WATCH: Shelby County educator trying to get thousands of books donated to children in South Memphis

SOUTH MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Shelby County educator is working to get more than 1,000 books donated before school lets out for the summer to give to grade school children in South Memphis.

The goal is to keep students on track to better their reading skills while school is out. The target age group is kindergarten through second grade.

Between those ages, officials said children should be getting comfortable with reading, while also getting prepared for the third grade.

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Especially since Shelby County Schools leaders have discussed holding second graders back who are not on the required reading level.

Towanna Murphy said her goal to make sure students don’t take a break from learning is simple – but a steep mountain to climb.

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"We need a thousand books for the summer for children that can’t afford books. It’s expensive, some of these books are 20 to 30 dollars,” said Murphy.

Murphy works with children, teaching them how to read in Shelby County Head Start.

Murphy said this summer she is getting students involved with improving their reading in a program called “Project Let’s Read.”

"Project Let's Read simply gets the children excited about reading. They learn the words, learn how to spell the words and pronounce the words," Murphy said.

Murphy said she knows children who have reached third grade that couldn’t read at all.

Earlier this year, SCS leaders discussed th possibility of holding 2nd graders back who could not read on grade level.

"If we have something that can keep their mind going and keep it active, keep reading – seeing the numbers, words, and letters – we won't have so many children return that are illiterate,” said Murphy.

Murphy told FOX13 she hopes to expand her book donation beyond South Memphis so that curse of illiteracy is erased from SCS students.