Book angels have been busy visiting students in grades K-2 in the Riverside, Deer Park, Mary Walker and Valley school districts. Recently, 957 students each received a new book, thanks to the Deer Park Rotary club.
Meg Parker, club secretary, said, “This project was dreamed up during a breakfast meeting of the women in the club, all of whom are mothers or grandmothers.” That gathering evolved into the Literacy Committee and the project was embraced by the entire club.
This year, the Deer Park Rotary, with a matching grant from Rotary District 5080, raised $2,500 to purchase the books. Organizers decided to focus on students in kindergarten through second grade to encourage early literacy. Riverside School District superintendent and Rotary member Roberta Kramer said, “The idea is to get books into the hands of young children. The more experience they have with books increases the likelihood that they’ll be readers later in life.”
Second-graders in Debbie Morlan’s classroom at Chattaroy Elementary beamed as the books were distributed. Meg Parker is a familiar face in the classroom because each week she volunteers to come in and read with the students.
Morlan said, “A lot of kids don’t have a chance to snuggle up with a parent or have a bedtime story read to them.” She called Parker “our book angel.”
The students eagerly paged through their gifts. “They are treasuring these books,” said Morlan.
Literacy is a major focus of Rotary International. Each year, clubs around the world raise funds to purchase books for schools, encourage adult literacy projects and promote International Literacy Day on Sept. 8.
Kramer said the gift of the books sends an important message to children. “It says, ‘We value you,’ ” she said. “It speaks volumes to our kids.”