Reading Is Fundamental programs hit by federal cuts

The PTA at Lexington's Liberty Elementary School plans to pony up roughly $4,000 this school year to keep Liberty's Reading Is Fundamental program in operation despite federal funding cutbacks.

Across Kentucky, however, many other RIF programs aren't as lucky, facing uncertain times as federal dollars run out with no future funding sources immediately in sight.

RIF says it distributed 15 million books to almost 4 million children nationwide last year, including more than 290,000 volumes given to more than 80,000 kids in Kentucky.

Liberty's RIF program is typical. It provides three free reading books annually to each of Liberty's 800 students. Children get to pick the books they like and take them home to keep. For many, it's their first chance to have books they can call their own, program officials said.

"I can't tell you how exciting it is when the kids come in and pick out their own books and get to write their names in them," Liberty PTA president Lori Sprague said. "We felt like it was important to keep the program going, because it really encourages kids' interest in reading."

The Liberty PTA hopes to continue funding the program in coming years, if necessary, so that more children can receive books, Sprague said.

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