About Us

Springfield’s Gift of Literacy is an annual award-winning program that encourages a love of reading among young children. Through rich community partnerships and generous donors, every first-grader in Springfield Public Schools participates in an enriching six-month literacy program.

Gift of Literacy aims to encourage first-graders to enjoy and be excited about reading and learning by:

  • Exposing them to a variety of books: Each student reads up to ten carefully selected titles throughout the year.
  • Empowering them with a choice: Each student chooses his or her favorite title and receives a hardbound copy of the book at the annual celebration.
  • Connecting them with the library: Students receive their own Springfield Public Library cards.
  • Providing them with an exciting event: All the first-graders go to a celebration where they meet their favorite characters, such as Clifford the Big Red Dog.
  • Reinforcing the importance and enjoyment of reading: Students are split into small groups and read to by community members, sometimes even authors, at the celebration.
  • Introducing them to a college campus: The event is held at Lane Community College, where the students get a glimpse of college life.

Gift of Literacy has had a measurable impact on literacy rates and student achievement. The Springfield Public Library has reported a marked increase in participation of their Summer Reading Program, and tens of thousands of items have been checked out by Gift of Literacy participants.

History of Gift of Literacy

Springfield’s Gift of Literacy was inspired by a book-giving program in Wyoming, “Casper Cares, Casper Reads,” now known simply as Wyoming Reads. In 1996, the Sue Jorgensen Library Foundation was established by John Jorgensen to benefit libraries and honor his late wife’s commitment to childhood literacy.

In 2006, the Rotary Clubs of Springfield (Springfield, Twin Rivers and McKenzie After 5) partnered with TEAM Springfield to create a book-giving program for the students of Springfield. On June 1, 2006, every first-grade student in the district received a brand new, hardbound book at a ceremony celebrating and encouraging literacy. Springfield’s Gift of Literacy was set in motion – we celebrated our tenth anniversary in 2015!