Student’s letter wins books for school

Published 9:07 am Friday, January 30, 2009

“We need school books for my grade” is the opening request of a first-grader’s letter that was selected to receive $225 from the Tools for Schools.

With the help of his stepmother Misty, Zander Himle wrote a letter saying many of the books at Sibley Elementary School were too easy or too hard for him to read, and the school needed more books for students at a first-grade reading level. On Jan. 28, Zander’s wish was granted as KIMT presented a check to Zander and the rest of Peggy Bennett’s first-grade class.

Sibley librarian Brenda Reeder said Zander was excited to have done something positive for his school.

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“He came into the media center last week and said, ’I did something good for the school.’ And I said, ‘Yes you did Zander,’” Reeder said.

KIMT and sponsors, First Citizen’s National Bank and Carlos O’Kelly’s Mexican Café, select one nomination each month of the school year to receive the prize, but teachers and parents usually submit nominations, not students, said Kay Rathmann, community affairs/special promotions director for KIMT.

“This was extra special to actually come from someone in the class, and he said they needed books so he could read to his baby brother and his sister and his dad, and it’s just really sweet,” Rathmann said.

Bennett said she didn’t know Zander had mailed the letter until she received a phone call saying her class had been selected to receive $225.

The money will be used to buy books for readers of an early first-grade level, but Bennett and her class chose to give the books to the media center and not keep them in her class. That way the other first-grade class and three kindergarten classes can also enjoy the books, Bennett said.

“It’s neat for my class to receive something like that and maybe think of a way that they could help the whole school,” Bennett said.

Bennett said the school will be able to buy about 15 to 20 books with the money.

Zander has been busy reading, and eagerly showed off books he’s read. He just finished his first Arthur chapter book and is hoping to read that entire series. He’s also read books like “I Love Fishing,” a book from the Rookie Reader series Bennett introduced to him. Zander said “Silly Questions” is the funniest from the series.

“I like most about reading books is sounding out words and figuring them out and looking at the cool pictures,” Zander said.

Zander was reading at an early first-grade level early in the year around the time he submitted the letter, and Bennett said he’s now reading at a beginning second-grade level.

“It’s a proven fact that the more kids read books at their own level, the better they learn to read. Zander’s a real testimony to that,” Bennett said.

Bennett has made a few books for her class, like one about when her dog recently visited her class for its 14th birthday. But now the students will be able to check out the new books from the school library and read them at home, something Bennett said is important they do at least ten minutes each day.

“That practice is so important, and we can’t do it all at school; there’s just not enough time,” Bennett said.

Bennett said she loves teaching students to read, and she often reads books like the “Chronicles of Narnia” series during snack time because the students can comprehend more than they can read.

“Reading is just so fun,” Bennett said. “As first-graders they’re getting into it for the first time. It’s just exciting to seem them. Their eyes just light up and they can read. And when they learn things they’ll bring a book up: ‘Look what I just learned.’”