James Patterson is announcing the first round of school libraries to receive grants from an initiative he and Scholastic Reading Club launched in March, and he continues to raise the amount of money he will donate.
The best-selling and prolific author said Tuesday that $500,000 has been given to 127 schools, from Berryville Middle School in Arkansas to the Pierre Indian Learning Center in South Dakota. Individual grants range from $1,000 to $10,000, part of a program Patterson and Scholastic originally set at $1.25 million, but now stands at $1.75 million. On Tuesday, he committed an additional $250,000, the second time since March he raised funding by $250,000. An "overwhelming" volume of requests, more than 28,000, for books and other resources is behind the latest increase.
"With nearly half the population currently reading at or below the basic level, the United States is truly in the middle of a crisis," Patterson said in a statement. "I've now read over a thousand letters from school librarians, teachers, and parents about the lack of resources at our country's schools. 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."
The remaining $1.25 million of the library program will be distributed over the second half of 2015.
Patterson has given away millions in recent years to libraries and independent booksellers while also sponsoring numerous literacy projects. In May, he started a young adult book imprint, Jimmy Patterson, part of his longtime publisher, Little, Brown and Company.