05/14/12 Menominee Elementary School in Plymouth received a donation of 500 new books for their library last week. Students in the school had read 500 books online to qualify for the book donation from the Pearson Corporation. The company’s Read Mobile made a stop at the school and handed each second grader a book during a western themed assembly.

    According to Principal Mike Dunn, the idea to enroll in the project came from the grandmother of one of the kindergarten students in the school. Emma Orlowski’s grandmother, Beverly Brown, had been looking on the internet to find books to send to Ghana, located in West Africa where her daughter Liz was teaching, when she came across the We Give Books website that outlined the project. For every book read by a student, a free book was sent to another area in the United States or foreign country.

    Dunn said the second graders were chosen to receive individual books since they had actually used their Mac computers to read books on a regular basis. To receive a book at the assembly, the children had to sign a pledge to keep reading.

   Dunn said, “Menominee is always open to new ideas, especially when it involves reading.” He added, “This was a perfect opportunity to get kids reading online as well as work together for common cause, which earned us 500 books.” According to Dunn, the majority of the books read by students were non-fiction, filled with rich text and informational text.

“We need to continually look for these opportunities which only come from good home/school relations fostered not only by the principal, but the teachers.” Dunn said.

   Helping to keep the project going was Menominee’s Information Literacy Assistant, Brian Kunze. Dunn said, “Brian took the initiative to see the idea through. He is a true go-getter.” He added, “He’s even gotten parents helping in the library as we move to labeling books with a lextile level.” Lextile length denotes the length of a sentence by vocabulary and text complexity.

Brown said she is an avid reader and is especially glad to have her granddaughter in a school where the principal and staff are open to hearing ideas from families. She said, “I knew from working with Mr. Dunn that he would be excited about a way to help kids.” Brown said she grew up in a small community in Illinois where there was no public library and the school’s library consisted of only one shelf. She said, “When we had to write term papers in high school, we had to request books from a regional library.” “I know how important it is to get books into the hands of children.”

Menominee was one of only three schools in Indiana to reach the 500 –book read level. Jefferson Elementary in Plymouth was given a donation of 250 books for their efforts.

We Give Books recently reached a milestone of donating one million books. They were able to send 150,000 to Jumpstart preschool classes across the United States, 75,000 to World Vision for use by children in refugee camps, 60,000 books to Read local-language libraries around the world, 250,000 to U.S. pubic school children, provided over 60,000 books to accompany free teacher training in East Africa, took 35,000 books to children in rural Asia, and more.

Carol Anders Correspondent