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Students receive free books from local club

MORRIS – With summer upon them, students look forward to the lazy days of summer and the lack of homework, but educators feel it’s important for children to continue to learn during the summer months. One way is to read at home.

With that goal in mind, local kindergarten and first-grade students received new books Monday, thanks to the Morris Kiwanis Club.

“Our motto is serving the children of the world,” Kiwanis member Don McKinney said. “We look for ways to serve the kids in Morris. What better way than to start them on really good books early?”

The Kiwanis, in cooperation with White Oak Elementary School staff, held a literacy event where students in kindergarten and first grade were brought to the cafeteria to color bookmarks and participate in other crafts to celebrate reading while they were released a table at a time to pick two books from one of three tables filled with books.

“I picked out books with the help of kindergarten teacher Sara Crawford,” White Oak librarian Marnie Garcia said. “We picked out a variety of books from pre-K to first-grade readers so we had books for every level of reader.”

First-grade student Mikey Wagner picked out “Ready Freddy Saves the Earth,” one from a series on Ready Freddy, a young boy who is in first grade and ready for adventure, and “Splish Splash,” because he likes reading about water.

“I like to read books at school and at home,” he said. 

Kenzie Auwerda also picked out “Splish Splash” as well as “Wake Me In Spring.”

“I picked ‘Splish Splash,’ because that is the name of one of my dances I’m doing at recital,” she said. 

She said she chose her other book because of the colorful illustrations.

Across town at Immaculate Conception School, first-grade students chose early chapter books like the “Black Lagoon” series, the “Magic School Bus” series as well as “Ready Freddy.”

Karson Dransfeldt said she, was happy to get her book because she feels good when she reads.

The students were happy and surprised to get a free book, they said.

“When you go to the library you have to return the books,” Brennan Borgstrom said. “We get to keep these.”

Ben Biros said it’s awesome to get a book he can keep forever.

Students at Nettle Creek and Saratoga schools also received books.

“The summer book extravaganza is a new program in addition to the in-class reading program Kiwanis has been providing locally for the last few years,” McKinney said. 

Kiwanis used money raised from the Corn Festival drawdown to purchase the books.

They purchased a total of 1,000 books at the cost of $1,000. 

“Studies show the more books a student has in their home library the more successful they are,” District 54 Superintendent Teri Shaw said. “We wanted to send them home for summer with books.”

Garcia said for many, these are the first books they will own because students don’t get to go to bookstores, and some don’t have the money to purchase at the district’s book fairs.

“The kids were so excited,” Garcia said. “Kids came up and hugged and squeezed and thanked us. It was magical.”

She said she hopes the program becomes an annual tradition. 

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