Pine Belt 360 gives books to third grade students

Pine Belt 360 gives books to third grade students

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Pine Belt 360, a local faith based organization, partnered with Scholastic Books to give back to the community.

"We decided to give away books because literacy is king," said executive director, Van Jones. "It's a pressing issue here in the Pine Belt and all over Mississippi."

Pine Belt 360 began distributing books at Longleaf Elementary Monday morning, but they won't stop there.

"Tuesday we will be in Columbia, Wednesday Forrest County schools, and Thursday Hattiesburg elementary schools," said Jones.

All  third-graders at each school they visit will receive four books to keep. The organization hopes that these books will encourage them to practice their reading.

The pressure is on for third-graders because they could be kept from passing to the fourth grade under the state's new literacy law referred to as the third grade reading gate. They must pass their literacy assessment that will be administered in the spring.

"At Pine Belt 360 our goal is to meet the needs of the community," said Jones. "We saw an opportunity to give back and decided to give back to the third grade group."

The group plans to do a similar program in the spring, so that students may take home books to read over the summer break.