- Sponsorship -

Gift of 500 Books Stokes Students Love of Reading

Lindsey Tilley was rocking her newborn daughter, Kate, to sleep when she heard the message on her voice mail: She had just been awarded a grant of 500 free books for her high school classroom.

For an English teacher always trying to put new books in the hands of her students, the excitement was overwhelming.

“It was one of those moments where you feel really validated in what you do,” recalls Tilley, a Northview High School teacher. “It was an incredible gift that we in public education are not accustomed to receiving.”Freshman Sophia Rhodes pores over one of the more than 1,000 books in Tilley's classroom library

Tilley was one of three U.S. teachers to receive a trove of titles from the Book Love Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting a love of reading among middle and high school students. Teachers from Iowa andIllinois also received 500 books in the grant program’s first year.

Tilley filled out a lengthy application this summer after learning of the grant on Twitter from Penny Kittle, the foundation’s founder, teacher and literacy consultant. Tilley had met her in Kittle’s presentations to Northview, Kent ISD and other educator gatherings. After being alerted to the grant, Tilley thought the offer of 500 books “must be a mistake.”

It wasn’t. The grant provided her with 374 titles selected by Kittle and another 126 to be chosen by Tilley and her students.

From Fantasy to Classics

Tilley recently received the first shipment of 250 books. They range from contemporary best-sellers like Laura Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken” and Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers,” to the sci-fi “Divergent” trilogy and classics like “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” 

Those books increased Tilley’s classroom library to more than 1,000 books, and gave students more choices for their required reading regimen of three hours a week. She has spent $50 to $100 a month to keep the library growing. 

Freshmen Mary O'Connor (left) and Kayli Nagelkerk had their reading choices greatly enlarged by a grant of 500 books to their English classroom library“We’re always trying to get kids more engaged in the process of choice reading,” Tilley says. “The only way to try to connect all kids to books is to just have a lot of them available.”

Junior Audrey VanEssen didn’t need a lot of prompting to stoke her love of reading. She already has read two of the new titles, she says. “It was incredible just to see how many there were,” she adds.

Tilley says her students were “super excited” when they began opening the boxes and uncovering new titles. And she is excited to see the new books still to come – including the ones she and the class selected.

“It’s impossible to ever feel you have enough books to reach all kids,” she says.


Book Love Foundation

- Sponsorship -
Charles Honey
Charles Honey
Charles Honey is editor-in-chief of SNN, and covers Rockford and Grand Rapids. As a reporter for The Grand Rapids Press/mLive from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years and its columnist for 20. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today, Religion News Service and Faith & Leadership magazine. Read Charles' full bio or email Charles.


Fourth-grade hockey fan gets a magical hour on ice: ‘I made the shot!’

Raised as a Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins hockey fan, Jackson Solow lights up while skating on an ice rink wearing his favorite hockey jersey...

‘This time it is continued learning’

One school’s switch from in-person to virtual education last week was nearly seamless, especially when compared with the forced school closure in March...

Foundation grants $28,285 in fall funding requests

Virtual phys ed and art experiences, materials to improve classroom focus and books on social issues aimed at middle-schoolers are among the grants approved this fall...

Latest school closings expand on state-ordered high school mandate

More Kent County districts continue to announce temporary school building closures, as schools contend with a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Kent County and Michigan...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

This teacher wants her students to be world citizens

Audrey McKenzie practices what she teaches in celebrating diversity...

High school career center shifts to project-based learning focus

No more usual, scheduled six-hour school day. Gone are letter grades; instead, concrete standards are detailed on a hybrid transcript...

Making masks more fun

A face mask tie-dying activity teaches East Oakview developmental kindergartners teamwork and patience while also supporting a very local business...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU