Taking extra steps to promote literacy

Published 9:42 am Friday, December 23, 2016

All kindergarteners in A.L. district receive 3 books to keep

To some, having the money to buy books is a challenge. The Albert Lea School District is helping fill the need and promoting literacy.

Teachers distributed three books to each kindergarten student in the district Thursday. The books will permanently be at each student’s home.

“We know that children in poverty only have, research tells us, 0.5 of a book in their house that they can actually read,” said Elementary Services Coordinator Mary Jo Dorman. “One of our goals as we promote literacy is helping all children have books in their home that they can read.”

Funding for the program was provided by Freeborn County Communities Foundation, and the books were donated by the National Book Foundation, Dorman said.

She cited one kindergartner’s reaction as the reason for the program.

Teacher Sophia Hanson gives a book to kindergartner Jasper Nihiser-Weller Thursday at Halverson Elementary School. — Sam Wilmes/Albert Lea Tribune

Teacher Sophia Hanson gives a book to kindergartner Jasper Nihiser-Weller Thursday at Halverson Elementary School. — Sam Wilmes/Albert Lea Tribune

“When Sophia (kindergarten teacher Sophia Hanson) said ‘you can add this to your library at home, or maybe you don’t have a library at home,’ and the one little boy said ‘I don’t have a library at home,’ I mean, the tears started, because this is why we do this,” she said. 

All district first-graders are receiving one hardcover book. 

“I think every educator, their biggest wish and hope is that there is an endless supply of books for kids to have access to,” said Halverson Principal Johanna Thomas.

Giving children books fulfills the district’s mission, Thomas said.

“We’re sending the books home for kids,” she said. “We are promoting reading. It’s always about promoting reading, academics. Reading is the best way we can help kids outside of school.”

Several learning activities are planned today at the district. All 335 students at Halverson will be taking home a book. The district plans to collaborate with the Albert Lea Public Library this spring to push for summer reading.

“We’re just a district that really promotes literacy, and by promoting it we are providing kids with the books they need,” Dorman said. “As well as we send home their reading books daily so they can practice readings in the primary grades. We are just always really encouraging reading.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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