|The Joy of a New Book (Pixabay image)|
One thing that educators are always concerned about is keeping students reading during summer vacation. The Withee Public Library attempts to help students with their summer reading by giving away books at our local elementary school each spring, along with brochures about our summer library events and programs.
We purchase the books through the Scholastic Literacy Partnership, which provides low cost books to organizations that purchase the books with the intention of giving them away. Twice we have been fortunate enough to receive money from the Target Literacy Grant for this purpose and other times we’ve funded this project through the library budget or memorial donations to the library. Currently, we give books to children in kindergarten through third grade. Someday I hope we can afford to give books to all the elementary school children, right up through grade 6.
There is nothing better than carrying those boxes into the school and laying the books out on the library tables. We are the subject of stares and excited whispers. When the children finally troop into the library, we receive friendly waves and a few brave souls even talk to us, reminding us of past years’ visits and the books they or their siblings received. Another member of my staff or I read stories to the children and talk about the library. Then the children are each allowed to choose one book that they can keep forever. It reminds me of my own elementary school days when we received free books through the RIF (Reading is Fundamental) program. I still have one of those books on my shelf and although the pages are yellowed and brittle and the cover is tattered, I can’t give it up.
Book giveaway day is my favorite day of the year. I love it more than Christmas. This year our library was able to take this idea one step farther. We offered to give a book to each preschool age child attending child development days at our local school. Unfortunately, the school had already decided to do that and had purchased the books to be given away. So the library chose to supplement that by giving away an activity kit that included a library themed coloring book, a brochure about the library, stickers and, for the parents, a card with ideas on raising a reader.
Hopefully, we will have even more readers in the next group of kids coming up.
Loralee Petersen, Director
Withee Public Library, Withee, WI