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Reading Windfall: Schools Passing Out Free Books for Elementary Students

The holiday season will bring books, books and more books to Wyoming Public Schools elementary buildings.

Oriole Park and Parkview elementary schools each is receiving a big delivery of enough copies for all students of the 2014 Michigan Reads! Book of the Year, “Acoustic Rooster and his Barnyard Band.” The schools were recently awarded the books through Michigan Department of Education’s Culture of Reading program.Source: Reading is Fundamental

Plus, books from the nonprofit children’s literacy organization Reading Is Fundamental, funded through a $10,000 grant from Macy’s department store corporation, has provided Wyoming Intermediate, Parkview, West and Gladiola elementary schools free books. Kindergarten through second-grade students are receiving three books each, and pre-kindergarten and third- through fifth-grade students two apiece, said Danielle Vigh, the district’s academic support manager. Districts qualifying for the RIF grant have free and reduced lunch populations of 80 percent or higher.

Kevin Elliott turns the pages

“This is very important so our students have access to quality reading materials and reading materials in general, and get into the habit of taking the time to read,” said Superintendent Tom Reeder, who hopes students learn to pick up a book for fun instead of always turning to other leisure activities. “Our community must continue to foster and develop good habits.”

Students in second-grade teacher Lori Schimmelmann’s class settled under the classroom Christmas tree with their books in hand. “I like it because Mrs. Schimmelmann thought it was going to be a paper book, but it’s a real (hard-covered) book,” said student London Turner.

“So many of these kids don’t have books at home and to get this nice hard-covered book is like, ‘wow,’” added Schimmelmann.

Fostering a ‘Culture of Reading’

Other district efforts to promote reading include Little Free Library house-shaped boxes stationed outside schools, with free books inside for the community to grab. Students are keeping reading logs, working to reach a weekly goal of minutes spent reading for fun. A districtwide committee is focused on school and community reading projects.

The state’s Culture of Reading program is distributing 3,000 copies of this year’s chosen book to 115 Michigan elementary classrooms and early childhood programs. It is the first award allocated through the program. Approximately 740 elementary school and early childhood programs applied for the grant.

Awards were granted on the basis of meeting grant criteria, including a commitment to providing the children with evidence-based reading instruction and family engagement activities focused on literacy.

“Kids will be getting their own books and reading instruction to help them on theirway to a lifetime of learning and reading for enjoyment,” State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in a press release.

Parkview Elementary second-grade students Solymar Lopez-Argueta, Joselyn Sanchez-Rodriguez, Vanessa Matildez-Rodriguez and Juan Jimenez-Hernandez read their copies of the 2014 Michigan Reads! Book of the Year“There are too many people, including children and adults, who cannot read,” Flanagan added. “We need that to change. To help build a culture of reading in Michigan, we need to get books in their hands and in their homes.”

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Culture of Reading grant program

Reading is Fundamental program

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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