Students from East Side Central Elementary School were given brand-new books to keep for their home library during the holiday season and can look forward to more to come.
Principal Elaine Burton bought the books using a $20,000 OhioReads grant that the Toledo Public School received at the beginning of the school year. She said she felt it was necessary to get more books into the students' hands.
"It's to promote and enhance the reading skills of all of our students," she said. "That way we can bridge the reading concept between home and school."
Two years ago, from a local church, the school received more than 2,000 books that were gently used or new to give to children to keep, but Ms. Burton said this is the first time she's been able to select and purchase such a large number of new books.
She's purchased more than 3,000 books that were distributed among the about 570 kindergarten through sixth-grade students at the school and plans to soon buy more to allow each student to have taken home at least four books by the end of the school year, when the grant funds have to be spent.
Teachers selected about 100 of the books they felt were age-appropriate for their students and allowed students to choose several they would be interested in reading at home.
The new books include a mix of topics from creepy-crawly bugs and butterflies to books telling the tale of fictional adventures.
Since the children have selected a few of the books, Ms. Burton said she often sees the books again - in the hands of students in the lunchroom after finishing their meals.
There will also soon be another way to read at school without stopping by the school library, for teachers are looking forward to the new additions to their "classroom libraries," due to arrive soon, said Amy Lamberger, peer literacy coach.
She said through the years, teachers have spent money out of their own pockets to have books available for students in their classroom to supplement the school library. Using grant funds, each classroom will receive 20 to 30 new books that are a mix between fiction and nonfiction for students to use as extra practice with reading.
In addition to purchasing books, Ms. Burton said the grant will continue to be used for technology and professional development.
Funds will continue to pay to update the software on each of the five computers in every classroom and on the 33 machines in the computer lab.
The grant will also pay for teachers to receive professional development by allowing them to attend conferences, become proficient in using materials on the Internet, and ensure that they stay up-to-date on the latest materials relating to reading.
"You cannot become a fluent reader without working at school and at home," Mrs. Lamberger said. "Without any good books at home, it's really hard to do. It was really a godsend to get this grant. Teachers are just so happy to see the kids taking home the books."