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Third-graders connect with books on library field trip

On a Friday field trip, more than 500 students from seven elementary schools checked out books downtown at the Lexington Public Library, where they went on a scavenger hunt through the children’s section and heard from Kentucky author George Ella Lyon about how books are made. 

“I hope they see the library as a fun place to come and that books are exciting so they want to read,” said Erin Manna, Title I literacy coach for Fayette County Public Schools. 

Manna had invited all of the district’s Title I schools for the field trip, which was funded by a Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant. Participants included third-graders from Booker T. Washington, Mary Todd, James Lane Allen, Russell Cave, Coventry Oak, Deep Springs, and Lansdowne. 

Each group started in the library’s auditorium, where Lyon read aloud her latest children’s book, “What Forest Knows,” and talked a little about her writing process. “It starts in my heart, my head, maybe my memory, and lots of people work on it before it comes to you,” she said in describing the many steps of a book’s publication. She explained how she uses a journal, multiple drafts, and a dummy or practice book with her words on Post-It notes to prepare her story. Then the illustrator and editor take their turns, followed by computerized printing, collating, and binding for the final product. 

The classes then rotated upstairs where library staff had set out some 700 specially chosen books for the students to browse. After picking one apiece, the children dropped their books into bins bearing their teacher’s name. Next week, the library will deliver the bins to each school, where the youngsters can enjoy in-class reading. Each classroom will also receive a signed copy of Lyon’s book to keep. “The goal is to get books in kids’ hands,” as Manna said. 

The field trip was supposed to include a walking tour of the Book Benches project with students taking two separate routes between the downtown library and the nearby Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning, but that portion of the day was rained out. 

Local artists designed the 37 benches based on books by Kentucky authors, including one outside the Carnegie featuring “What Forest Knows.” “Some drew from the covers, and some had innovative, fresh ideas,” said Jessica Mohler, the Carnegie’s marketing and communications director. “It’s a really cool intersection of literary and visual arts, and it was neat to see how they inspire each other.” 

The Carnegie distributed Book Benches catalogs so the students can potentially explore the functional artwork another day with their families. The school walking tour would have highlighted bench numbers 6, 9, 10, 32, 26, 20, 5, and 17. 

FCPS partners for the field trip included the Kentucky Department of Education, the Lexington Public Library, the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, LexArts, and Arts Connect. 



Tammy L. Lane, district webmaster
(859) 381-4236