The magic of giving books to children lies first in watching their eyes, then in hearing their voices. As the students from the Sue Duncan Children’s Center filed out into the hall where I had, courtesy of Rock for Reading, displayed 40 boxes of books for them to take home, eyes widened in the same way you see youngsters’ eyes widen when they walk in a toy store. Conversation dropped, eyes ranged up and down the row of boxes, and then one older child put it together and asked softly, “Are those for us?”
“Yes, they’re for you to take home. You may take one of each.”
For a moment no one said anything and then a girl asked in a quiet, it’s-too-good-to-be-true sort of voice, “You mean we can each take one, right?”
“No,” I said, “you may take one of each. If you can carry that many.”
Their eyes flickered from the books to my face and back. Several voices, rising with excitement, said, “Really?” Others had already believed my smile and were moving in, babbling happily. “Look, Malcolm X!” “Look, one about Aztecs!” The volume soared. “Ooh, this one’s in Spanish!” “How will we carry them all?”
Recycled plastic shopping bags were produced, an orderly system of distribution arranged, no effort was made to lower the volume. Older kids helped younger ones fill their bags and carry them. Overloaded bags split and were replaced. Children requested exceptions to the one-each rule. “My cousin really likes cars, can I take an extra book for him?” “My dad saw a program on India on TV last week, can I…” (Dad lives in a separate home) “My little brother…” The answer was always yes.
The volume had dipped once most bags were filled but then the children began to be picked up and it rose again. “Mom, look!” “Dad, can you carry these?” “Look, Gramma, these books are mine!”
Owen Duncan Sue Duncan Children’s Center
Wow! Everyone at Talcott Fine Arts and Museum Academy sends a big THANK YOU! Your wonderful donation to the students at Talcott truly inspired readers. We heard students say things like, “Hey, here are books on energy!” and “Ohh… I want this one, the one about the EPA.” The Spanish books were especially appreciated by some of our youngest readers who were able to select their books from a wide range of nonfiction topics, most of which connected to what they had learned in science and social studies. Your generosity of both books and spirit has left an indelible mark on the students of Talcott. Thank you!
Chicago Literacy Initiative Partnership
Talcott Fine Arts and Museum Academy
Hi Rock For Reading group!
I just wanted to tell you how much the students at our school appreciated the books that you donated. The students were excited to be reading non-fiction text, but were thrilled to find out that they got to keep these books and add them to their home libraries.The teachers and staff were overwhelmed by your generous donation to the reading development at our school. Most of our students don’t own many books and you could tell they were very excited to share these books with their family. As our assistant principal, Jesse Tang said, “the first step for reading success is putting books in students hands”. Thanks to your work, we are closer to accomplishing that goal.
Thank you again! This was a wonderful experience for everyone involved!
Murphy Elementary School – CPS
A big thank you to Sourcebooks Inc. of Naperville for their donation of more than 8,000 children’s books – welcome to our “Creating a Nation of Readers” family! Melissa Wood, the accounts manager with Sourcebooks who organized the donation, also spent her Saturday helping R4R volunteers sort the books for potential recipients.
We are still looking for new homes for the books- six different fairy titles appropriate for ages seven and up. If your school, library, or other non-profit organization is interested, please contact us for more information.
Thanks SO much for the generous contribution of over 2000 books to Agassiz School! Every student from kindergarten through eighth grade received from 5-10 books in both Spanish and English. The photos show a first grade classroom receiving their books. The joy you see was duplicated in each and every one of our classrooms!
The mother of one of our bilingual families commented to her daughter, ” Now our house looks like the library!”
I still have students thanking me every day, and letting me know which of the books is their favorite.
Your program is outstanding. We truly appreciate your gift to us!
Agassiz School of the Fine and Performing Arts
On Friday, May 1, R4R Board members Paul Natkin and Jeff Peterson celebrated “Day of the Child” with teachers and students at Talcott Academy. R4R donated a large selection of books and, as part of the celebration, each student in grades pre-K through eighth, was allowed to select five books to take home.
After picking out his books, we overheard fifth grader, Isaac, exclaiming, “Cool! Cool! Cool!” We asked Isaac about his new books and he proudly showed off his Spanish language book about fire trucks. “I really like fire trucks, but I really wanted to know about their parts” Isaac told us.
At Talcott, students learn both Spanish and English so teachers and students greatly appreciated the donation of books in both languages. “There’s never enough books in Spanish,” explains teacher Raysa Ramos. “Some students are more comfortable reading one language over another, so to have a selection in both languages gets them to read even more.”
Some of the books donated were “just for fun” reading, while others met Talcott’s curriculum. “We’re getting books that are connected to what we’re teaching which is ideal” said Chicago Public Schools Literacy Coach, Margaret McGregor. In fact, R4R plans to work closely with Talcott to match future book donations to school lesson plans.
As all of the students patiently stood in line to pick out their books, we could see how much these books meant to them. After making their selections, most of the kids immediately sat down in the hallway and started to read, some quietly and some, like Isaac, couldn’t contain their excitement.
As the students made their way back to their classrooms, we heard dozens of students say “thank you” which warmed our hearts and made us proud to help kids develop a love of reading. We can’t wait to go to the next school!
R4R Board member Jeff Peterson