Portland students gain access to books, reading

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PORTLAND — A joint community service project has been started at Lyseth Elementary School to help combat the literacy crisis facing Cumberland County.

Under the initiative launched by The Rotary Club of Portland and the University of Maine School of Law, Lyseth has begun monthly in-class reading sessions for the 340 students in kindergarten through third grade. In addition, the students have benefited from book donations to either start or supplement their own home libraries. So far, 1,700 books have been donated.

According to figures provided by the Rotary Club, only 64 percent of the city’s elementary school students are reading at grade level by fourth grade, and overall reading proficiency is 5 percent below the state average.