When a child receives a brand-new book, their eyes light up with anticipation. So when a series of book fairs enabled each student to take home two for free, more than 12,000 young faces shone brightly across Fayette County Public Schools. Teachers in the two dozen Title I elementary schools also received four books apiece for their classrooms, bringing the district’s investment to about $93,000.
“These are books everybody wants,” said Kay Snyder, the librarian at Garden Springs Elementary. “To build interest in reading, they need the books that all the other kids are excited about. That’s where you get the spark.”
The district’s Title I Office, in partnership with Scholastic, hosted the book fairs to foster a love of reading in households that might not have extra money for children’s books. (Title I is the federal program that provides additional funding for schools that serve high concentrations of students living in poverty.) The participating elementaries were Arlington, Booker T. Washington, Breckinridge, Cardinal Valley, Coventry Oak, Deep Springs, Dixie Magnet, Garden Springs, Glendover, Harrison, James Lane Allen, Julius Marks, Lansdowne, Mary Todd, Meadowthorpe, Millcreek, Northern, Picadome, Russell Cave, Southern, Squires, Tates Creek, William Wells Brown, and Yates.
Volunteers from the Lexington Police Department, the Carnegie Center, and United Way of the Bluegrass stopped by several sites to help children pick out books. School librarians also guided the preK-5 students toward grade-appropriate titles, but the children got to make their own selections. “When kids have an input, they’re more likely to read it,” said Dawn Katte, a business development representative with Scholastic.
Snyder agreed. “We’re encouraging the children to read books that they love,” she said. “When kids are so excited about books they don’t know which one to pick, it’s the overall reading culture that you’re building.”