CADILLAC — In recent years, it’s been common to see teachers fundraising for supplies and decorations for their classrooms.
This summer, the trend turned to books, with one teacher’s campaign to buy books for her students going viral. More teachers attempted their own campaigns, and soon, the effort reached Cadillac.
“Within a couple hours, all 21 students had a sponsor,‘ recalled Samantha Garner, a teacher at Kenwood Elementary.
Ten dollars buys a student one book a month for the school year, thanks to a program from the book publisher Scholastic, which offers a book a month at various grade levels for $1.
Some donors sponsored more than one student, Garner said.
Keri Powell, a language arts teacher at Mackinaw Trail middle school, had an even bigger task, with dozens more students. But within a couple days, all 88 of her students had sponsors.
“It kind of spiraled,‘ Powell said. Some of the donors were strangers.
Powell recently gave her students the first book, called “ReStart,‘ a novel by Gordon Korman about a boy with amnesia.
“They were super-excited when I said I have a surprise for them,‘ Powell said.
The book-a-month fundraiser is part of a broader effort to get kids reading more. Powell’s fifth-graders have a 40-book challenge this school year. They’re building 3D stacks of the books they read, and Powell, too, is completing the challenge.
She wants to model good reading, staying interested in a book and finishing it, she said. The goal is to teach students to treasure books and develop into lifelong readers.
As for “ReStart,‘ Powell isn’t planning to hold formal lessons on the novel, but she will chat with the kids about the book.
And just because the kids will be building their personal libraries courtesy of the donors who supported the project doesn’t mean they’re expected to read all the books.
Their own interests are important, too.
“I don’t want to tell them what to read all the time,‘ Powell said.