CORVALLIS, Ore. - An Oregon State University student group is working with the national First Book program to provide books for low-income children in the Willamette Valley.

The Black Graduate Student Association took on the project as a way to promote reading and education among low-income children, said Tracy Jamison, an OSU graduate student and secretary of the student organization.

"What I like about First Book is that the children can help select the books that they are interested in," Jamison said. "And because the books go home with the kids; it gives them a sense of ownership. Another reason the BGSA adopted the literacy program was its access to books that honor diversity and increase cultural awareness."

The "First Book - Oregon State" program hopes to provide as many as 5,000 new books to children in Benton and Linn counties. Teachers and directors of local preschools, day care centers, mentoring and after-school programs may apply for the stipends. Children who are selected will receive at least six books, which they may select online.

Application information is available at online at: or by sending an e-mail to the Black Graduate Student Association:

First Book is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization created to enhance literacy. This Title-I program delivers age-appropriate books to children from kindergarten through grade 12 by working directly with publishers to keep costs down.

"Every child should have access to books," Jamison said. "I have a friend who is a teacher in Corvallis who asked each of the children in her class to bring a book to school - and two or three of them brought in the phone book. It was all they had. There is no way that should happen."

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Tracy Jamison,