• United Way set to distribute thousands of books to central Florida children


    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Thousands of students who failed the reading Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test this year will get a little something extra so they're prepared  for the next school year.
    Channel 9's Racquel Asa learned how a couple of books can keep kids from falling behind over the summer.
    Thirty volunteers spent the day in a room filled with books, each one donated to the United Way as part of the organization's Day of Action, meant to address summer reading loss.
    Lynne Smith, a librarian, said even she is overwhelmed by the 20,000 books the program has brought in.
    "I have not ever handled this many books, even though I work in a library," said Smith.
    United Way officials said it is the largest number of books they have ever collected.
    The books are being sorted and boxed. They are divided according to readers' age groups.
    United Way officials said that more books in children's hands prevents what is called "brain drain," that two months' worth of learning children miss out on if they don't do any reading when school is out on summer recess.
    The hope is that for the 6,000 Orange County students who failed the FCAT this year, the reading will help them pass the next time they take the test.
    "Just reading four books will help you maintain that threshold and maybe help you improve," Ashley Blasewictz with Heart of Florida United Way.
    Children in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties will get the books, specifically those who live in low-income neighborhoods where the United Way officials said there's only one book for every 300 children.
    "They will have their own private little library at home," said Smith.

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