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Target volunteers help give library ‘Magic School Bus’ theme

Adams Elementary media specialist Julie Custer reads “Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum” to second-graders Oct. 5. (J. Bart Rayniak)
Adams Elementary media specialist Julie Custer reads “Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum” to second-graders Oct. 5. (J. Bart Rayniak)

Grant nets 110 new books

The library at Adams Elementary School now has an infusion of 110 books thanks to a $500 grant from Target.

“Each year, each Target store gives a $500 book grant to a Title 1 school in their area,” said Adams media specialist Julie Custer. “We were selected because a couple of their employees are Adams alum and another is an Adams parent.”

Custer said she was surprised by the grant, since she didn’t have to apply for it.

Along with the funds, volunteers from the store came by the school this summer to help her make over the library. About 22 people – former students, parents, Target employees and their friends – spent four hours turning wall posters into 3-D posters, cutting out patterns of school buses and hanging mobiles at the school at 14707 E. Eighth Ave.

“I needed help getting it jazzed up this year,” Custer said.

The library now reflects the stories in the book series, “The Magic School Bus,” by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degan. A drawing of Mrs. Frizzle, the teacher from the books who takes students on rides through space, the human body, the ocean floor and other adventures, watches over the room. Bus seats on loan from Spalding Auto Parts have been set up in the sitting area for lucky students to sit in while Custer leads the class in lessons.

“It was just unbelievable,” Custer said. She knew there were volunteers coming, but she didn’t think there would be so many – she only brought in enough food to feed 10 people. “It was a really magical day.”

Custer comes up with a theme for her library each year. Last year she turned the room into a “book ranch” and dressed up like a cowgirl. This year, with the Magic School Bus theme, she often dresses as Mrs. Frizzle from the books or wears a lab coat she found at Value Village. Obviously, the theme this year is science.

The theme inspires students and parents to bring in items that will fit it – one parent brought in a microscope they found at a yard sale. Some students have brought in birds’ nests, sea shells, different kinds of rocks, arrowheads and dead bugs. One student brought a live yellow jacket.

There are also items in the library a scientist would use such as beakers and test tubes.

With the theme in place, Custer conducts lessons around it. A recent lesson with Jonelle Pierce’s second-grade class included a reading of “Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum,” a nonfiction book. She showed them the beakers and test tubes, told them what they were used for and how much liquid they hold.

After the story, the students learned how to draw pictures of test tubes.

The books Custer was able to purchase came from First Book. Each one was heavily discounted for the class.

“Almost all of them are hardbacks,” Custer said.

The library is now all set up for students and teachers to learn about science for the year, and Custer is very grateful for the volunteers and books.

“It really is amazing to see what they did,” she said.

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