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Community’s Gift: A Book for Every First-Grader

Volunteers Flood Schools to Read, Give Away Books


At the Congress Elementary School library, volunteer reader Alexis Rangel of Lake Michigan Credit Union delved into the magic of Caldecott Medalist’s Dan Santat newest book, “After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again.” She then gave the newly published, sumptuous hardback to every first-grade student.

The Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation, the fundraising partner of Grand Rapids Public Schools, orchestrated the reading and free distribution of the book to all 1,750 first-graders at 27 GRPS elementary schools this week.

First-grader Oliver Spaulding eagerly dives into his new book on the floor of the school library

“‘After the Fall’ is a wonderful story about grit, getting back up and persevering when things aren’t going your way,” said Michele Suchovsky, executive director of the Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation.

A retired first-grade teacher underwrites the “Good Things Happen to Readers” book giveaway, now in its fourth year. The books are purchased at a discount from Schuler Books & Music.

A bevy of volunteers — including retired teachers, business people, community leaders and parents – gave the equivalent of a warm hug by visiting every school to read and give away the book.

Congress Principal Erek Kooyman knows that reading a book to someone else is hugely important to enjoying the story. As if on cue, first-grader Brooklyn Riley confided in Kooyman: “I’m going to read this to my brother when I get home.”

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Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation

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