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From Caribou to Waldoboro, 'Dirigo Reads' expands to 20 more Maine schools

"Dirigo Reads" aims to put a brand-new book in the hands of every Maine first-grader each month of the school year by 2025.

BANGOR, Maine — A program in Maine is helping children improve their reading abilities, one book at a time.

"Dirigo Reads," a program aiming to put a book in the hands of every Maine first-grader each month during the school year by 2025, is expanding its program throughout the state.

The program launched last year and gave out over 3,300 books to first graders in six Maine communities. 

This year, the initiative is adding 20 more schools that will participate in the program during this school year. This brings the total number of participating schools to 26 for the upcoming school year, meaning an estimated 700 first graders in Maine will receive new books every month through the program.

"Literacy rates in Maine and really around the country could be better and part of that comes from a foundation of a love of reading and learning to advanced reading, so that’s really what Dirigo Reads is all about," co-founder Dan Cashman says.

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There are about 12,000 first graders enrolled in Maine public schools. Dirigo Reads provided books to about 2 percent of this population in the last school year and will increase to about 6 percent of first-graders in Maine for the 2020-2021 school year.

Any organizations interested in partnering with Dirigo Reads, or schools with first-grade classes wanting to join the program, can find more details at www.DirigoReads.org