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Albert Lea district receives books galore

Mary Jo Doorman, literacy specialist for the Albert Lea district, holds one of the boxes of books from First Book. --Tiffany Krupke/Albert Lea Tribune

Mary Jo Doorman, literacy specialist for the Albert Lea district, holds one of the boxes of books from First Book. –Tiffany Krupke/Albert Lea Tribune

Books, books everywhere.

But they almost didn’t arrive. One hundred one boxes of books arrived later than expected, first because they were delayed by inclement weather and later by a train derailment.

“I was worried,” said Mary Jo Dorman, literacy specialist for Albert Lea Area Schools. “I hoped the books weren’t in a ditch somewhere.”

The boxes arrived last week at the Brookside Education Center and will be given to Albert Lea elementary students to take home.

The books are from First Book, a nonprofit that aims to put books in the hands of kids in need. Albert Lea Area Schools received the books because it has 50 percent or higher of students receiving free or reduced lunch.

The largest number of books will go to Halverson Elementary School, the school with the highest percentage of students on free or reduced lunch. It has 70 percent receiving free or reduced lunch.

Students in need will bring home a book.

Students in need will bring home a book.

The district has received about 4,500 books from the nonprofit this and last year.

Dorman first applied for the grant last year. So far, the books have been given out at literacy nights and school breakfasts. The books are now in the hands of students, and Dorman hopes it will encourage students to read more.

“It is very important that student have access to books,” Dorman said.

Albert Lea schools are hosting events this month to encourage student to read in March. When author Nancy Carlson spoke at Halvorsen on Feb. 24, each student who attended received a free book. Second-graders will be visiting Mayor Vern Rasmussen’s office on March 11 to sign a city wide proclamation called Read Across Albert Lea. Each student that attends gets a book. Students will get a tour of city hall and have a pizza lunch.