Spreading the love of reading with a little help

Reading is a critical skill that opens to doors for children of all ages. Thanks to efforts of some dedicated individuals at Harrison Primary School in South Bend and the grant they received, the doors to learning are wide open.

The school recently won a $1,000 grant and some words of encouragement from Martin’s Supermarket. The money from the grant will help a reading program that puts books right into the hands of kids. Students have the opportunity to pick out which books to take and are even allowed to keep them.

NewsCenter 16’s Tricia Sloma visited Harrison Primary as the students there picked out books of their own.

“It's awesome. It’s been in the works for 5 years and we've given away so many books,” said third grade teacher, Teresa Crittendon.

The Reading for Rewards program encourages kids to read books and record the time they spend reading.

“Students have to write what they read and then parents have to sign it daily. And then they turn it in after they have completed the chart,” Crittendon added.

Children are then rewarded with books of their own, something that Kelly Swanson, an instructional assistant at Harrison Primary, noticed.

“Once I started bringing books in, sharing them with the kids and told them this is now yours, put your name in it. This is your book. They were so excited,” said Swanson. It is the sense of excitement that motivated Swanson to use some of her own money to buy more books.

Swanson says she buys books from garage sales, thrift stores and has even requested donations from her family and friends.

Students have the opportunity to pick from all levels of children’s books because, oftentimes, the children are not just thinking of themselves.

“I pick little books so I can give to my cousins. And sometimes I get 4th grade books so I can learn more stuff,” said fourth grade student Magaly Galacia.

Teachers say that students like fourth grader, Jhane Gilbert pick out books to share with their siblings. Jhane says she reads to her sister books about Barbie, an effort that teachers and staff at Harrison Primary are proud to facilitate.

The thousand dollar grant will help the school purchase more books so more students can enjoy them.

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