For the fifth year, members of the Rotary Club of Spokane Valley have visited schools in Spokane Valley, delivering books to children.
Mike Payson, president-elect of the club, said member Kay Bryant, came up with the idea of Books for Kids when she was visiting a school and heard a student say to her mother, “I wish I had a book.”
The club started with just one school, but this year, members delivered 2,474 books to kindergartners through fifth-graders at six schools: Trent and Trentwood schools in East Valley, Broadway and Opportunity elementary schools in Central Valley, and Orchard Center and Ness elementary schools in West Valley. They chose this week to deliver the books because it coincides with Read Across America week and Dr. Seuss’ birthday.
Payson said the schools have access to specially priced books, so the teachers order the books according to the students’ interests and reading levels. The Rotary Club then reimburses the school. It cost the club about $5,000, money members raised at the Spokane Valley Men of Rotary Fashion Show in October.
On Monday, Payson and other members of the club stopped by Trent School with the books for students in kindergarten through the fifth grade. Some members also read to the students.
“I think there might be a book in this box for every single one of you,” Payson told students in Kasi Rowe’s fourth-grade classroom as he hauled a box of books into the room.
Rowe said in her classroom, students looked through a catalogue and chose three books that interested them. From those choices, Rowe picked books that matched their reading level.
In Lois Musser’s kindergarten class, students received either “If You Give a Moose a Muffin,” “If You Give a Cat a Cupcake,” or “If You Give a Pig a Pancake.” If the student already had the book they received or if they wanted a different book, they could trade with their classmates.
“They’re excited about books and reading,” Musser said.
Principal Frank Brou said the program is one the kids appreciate, since many of the students don’t get new books very often. A typical indicator of poverty in any school is how many students qualify for the free or reduced lunch program. At Trent, that number is 85 percent.
“We get pretty well supported by our community in a lot of ways,” Brou said. This year someone donated new winter boots for students who may not have them. They’ve also received new hats and gloves as well as school supplies.
But the books are special.
“It’s an honor to have someone give you a book.” Brou said. “A book is a special thing.”
Brou said he remembers when his own children were in third grade, each student in their school received a dictionary which they still have.
The students also appreciate someone coming to their school to read to them.
“Kids need to have positive role models,” Brou said. When someone from the community comes to read, “it’s really powerful for the kids.”