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Young leaders leave a literary legacy


When fifth-grader Brandon McCollough applied for a chance to serve on the inaugural Library Legacy Committee, he figured it would be “kind of fun and the group would get to look at a bunch of books and do some activities.” But it was so much more.

“I really loved helping to choose books for future years, and we got to share our ideas,” he said. “We were really kind of in charge. I learned that you’re not the only one in charge and when everyone gets a fair argument and works together, things get done.”

Fifth-graders (from left) Colt Ward, Brandon McCullough, and Isiah Luke make a check of the library shelves

Chance to be a Leader

Kent City Elementary librarian Sara Schutt required interested fifth-graders to apply for a position on the committee to choose books for expanding the library collection. The group’s tasks included reviewing current library offerings, surveying students, looking for trends and compiling data.

The 26 fifth-graders selected for the Library Legacy Committee 2019 were given a $700 budget, and in the fall semester began by brainstorming how to decide what books would most benefit the library for future students.

The group developed a survey that was distributed in some classrooms and then hit the playground for personal interviews.

Library legacy committee member Karley Eager shows off one of the posters which will be on display with new books

“They surveyed students in kindergarten through fourth-grade,” said Schutt. “They had wonderful conversations with hundreds of students about the needs of future readers here at KCE. After administering the survey, committee members met to discuss their results and compile the data.”

“I really learned about leadership going out to interview kids,” saiid Brandon. “It wasn’t really a survey. It was more like a different question for everyone. You can’t really ask a kindergartener, ‘What’s your favorite genre?’”

What’s Trending

The committee looked for trends and found that “Notebook of Doom” books were popular and there probably couldn’t be too many “Pete the Cat” offerings.

Committee member Colt Ward said that when he was surveying “at least ten people said “Pete the Cat” books were their favorite.”

Fifth-graders Ivy Berg (standing) and Zoe Huizinga put some of the new books in place on the library shelves

“I think we need more books for little little kids,” said committee member Peyton Puite. “My sister is in Young 5s and she loves “Pete the Cat” books.”

Committee members also looked for voids in the current library collection.

Fifth-grader Addy Korcal searched the sports section of the library for a book about softball, “because a lot of girls play softball,” she said. “There may be some little girls looking forward to playing and it is good if there is a book to inspire them.”

Another noticed that there were few or no books on the military. “It is really good to learn about others that serve our country,” said GC Coronado, who also recommended books about airplanes and other types of flight.

After discussion, the legacy committee found that the biggest need in the KCE library was for non-fiction books. And so after pouring over book catalogues, they opted for books on:

  • Technology
  • Robots
  • Transportation (making sure there were some with tractors)
  • Geology (since several students asked for books on rocks)
  • How-to books
  • Animal books with lots of pictures for “emerging readers”
  • Environmental books on topics such as global warming and food chains

“The nonfiction area of our library needed a lot of love,” said Schutt.

When the ordered books arrived, the legacy committee had one more task – to stamp the committee logo inside each and to make personal bookmarks to leave with their books. The new books will be on special display at the beginning of the 2019-2010 school year and then become a part of the permanent collection.

“To leave a legacy is to leave behind something wonderful for all who come after you,” Schutt told the fifth-grade team.

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Janice Holst
Janice Holst
Janice Holst is a reporter covering Kent City and Sparta. She has been both a teacher and a journalist. A former MLive reporter, she wrote features and covered local government and schools for Advance Newspapers for nearly two decades. She also was a recipe columnist and wrote features for Mature Life Style and occasional entertainment pieces for On The Town magazines. She lives in Sparta Township and enjoys spending some of her retirement hours writing the stories of the northern Kent County school districts. Read Janice's full bio or email Janice.

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