Sparking Literacy in Teens


The mission is simple. I am trying to inspire teens to read, write and follow their dreams.  My name is Kyle Prue, and I am the 18 year old, award winning author of The Sparks.  I am on a national book tour visiting middle and high school students and my visits have been having a powerful impact on at-risk and reluctant readers. But these kids often can't afford books. I'm donating my time for the next year, but I need your help so I can donate books to needy kids.  The book tour is underway and I have more requests for books for needy kids than I can possibly handle.  I partner with community organizations like Kiwanis and Rotary whenever possible, but they have grant procedures and we can't always find community partners in time.  So I've decided to found a nonprofit and start fundraising on my own.  Here's my story.

It started with 70 At Risk Middle School Students in Naples, Florida

I was a high school senior and I had just published my young adult fantasy novel, The Sparks. A media specialist at a local middle school asked me to speak to three 90 minute classes of at-risk students, many of whom spoke English as a second language. These teens were at-risk of dropping out of school. A few were also feared to be at-risk of suicide. They were struggling readers, many had never read an entire novel.  I was nervous but decided to give it a shot.





Something amazing happened

Something powerful happens when teens are inspired by someone close to their own age.
I spoke with them about some of my middle school experiences, about how writing was an escape for me, and about the inspiration for The Sparks.  These struggling readers were suddenly so excited to read my book!

Each child was given their own personalized copy of The Sparks.




Having their own personalized copy turned out to be a key factor in what happened next.

The media specialist started getting feedback from parents and teachers.  These struggling, reluctant readers had devoured the book and many had read it multiple times.  Some were now asking me to recommend other books and a few had even started writing their own books.

Then I got a Huge Surprise!!!




I stopped in to visit the kids unannounced and a group of boys had started a Sparks club based on my book series and they were designing their own t-shirts of my book cover. They had even persuaded the art teacher to paint characters from The Sparks on the ceiling of the media center!

This is part of a letter that the media specialist sent the principal of that school.

"Kyle will NEVER begin to fathom the depth to which he touched some of our most at-risk students. I am forever grateful. I have pictures of the kids devouring the book and they rated it a hands down 10 stars. The best part was Kyle stopped by unannounced today to sign a poster of his characters and several of our students were making t-shirts of his book cover! Let me emphasize the fact that these are STUDENTS IN INTENSIVE HELP FOR LANGUAGE ARTS AND STRUGGLING RELUCTANT READERS. This event was a BREAKTHROUGH IN A HUGE WAY!”
                                              Beth Lindenmeyer, Media Specialist
                                               
That’s when I decided to defer my admission to the University of Michigan so that I could spend the next year visiting middle and high school students around the country.  I've visited several schools already and the problem is always the same.  Lots of kids can't afford books, but desperately want their own copy. I’m donating my time, but I need your help to donate books. I can get books at a discount from the publisher so 100% of your donation goes to getting books into the hands of kids that otherwise can't afford them. Transformation like this only works if the kids get their own book at the event, when they are excited to read.

I hope to eventually expand to include a roster of young adult authors that will donate their time and visits schools.  But this starts with me.  And it starts with you.

You can donate one book, books for a classroom or adopt a whole school.  You could join us and start a Sparking Literacy fundraiser to help ignite our movement to spark literacy in teens. You can add your fundraiser to our site by creating it with the red button on the right that says Create Fundraiser.  You can compete with  other people and form teams.  For ideas, check out our website at http://sparkingliteracy.org.  Join us, because once a young person discovers they love a book, something shifts.
A reader is born.
And maybe even a writer.
Or with luck, a dreamer.
Please help us and together we can spark a love of reading in a young person today.

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