Guilford County Schools

Breaking barriers with Break with a Book.

As part of a new strategic plan to improve students’ literacy skills, Guilford County Schools (GCS) in North Carolina wanted to launch a reading campaign to engage students most at risk of experiencing “summer slide”—the loss of academic progress during the summer months. Using new federal funding, the district approached us to create an innovative reading campaign to ensure students and families have the resources to keep reading all summer long.

The summer months are often filled with fun under the sun, but it’s also a time when students are most at risk to lose some of the academic progress made in the previous school year. Unfortunately, many families who need it most lack the books at home to help their children grow academically over the summer. In Guilford County, 64.5% of families struggle to make ends meet and cannot afford the expense of the books their children need to succeed.

We conceptualized, branded and implemented a county-wide campaign that made reading a fun part of summer vacation: Break with a Book. The idea was to position reading as a way to take an adventurous trip without ever leaving home. Each K-5 student across the district’s 49 Title I elementary schools was given six books—which they selected from a wide range of culturally diverse books at all reading levels—and a passport to chart their summer reading adventures. We partnered with High Point University and local libraries to host check-in events to keep students engaged and excited, where they could pick out prizes and collect stickers to fill out their passports. The campaign also supported families along the way with features such as bilingual bookmarks with question prompts for families to ask their child about the book they just read, tips for fostering early literacy, interactive tutorials and video workshops offered through Guilford Parent Academy and weekly reminders about upcoming check-in events. Students who filled out their passport by reading their six books were entered into a raffle to win the grand prize—an Amazon Fire reading tablet.

Through Break with a Book and programs like it, Guilford County Schools is closing the achievement gap and empowering families along the way. More than 20,000 students selected their six books to take home—and were excited to keep reading over the summer break. Families were also empowered with the tools they need to support their child’s academic development. Guilford County Schools has garnered national attention for its commitment to close achievement and opportunity gaps through Break with a Book, with mentions in high-profile publications such as The 74 and Education Dive.



  • Campaign development
  • Branding
  • Messaging
  • Communications support
  • Materials development