Community in Schools to give out 5,000 books


by Cheryl Burke


Getting quality literature into the hands of children is the goal of teachers and librarians. Getting them to read it at home is their dream.

In observance of National Library Week, April 13-19, two groups will join forces this week to make that dream a reality for 5,000 school children.

Representatives from Community In Schools of Carteret County, a nonprofit group created to support public schools in a variety of ways, and the Carteret County Public Library are teaming up to give away 5,000 new books at the county's public elementary and middle schools.

Communities In Schools of Carteret County received more than 5,000 books this year from First Books, a nonprofit group that provides disadvantaged children with new books. The books provided the perfect opportunity to become part of the celebration of National Library Week, which is a time to celebrate the contributions of libraries, librarians and library workers from schools, campuses and communities nationwide.

"The ultimate goal is to get the kids excited about reading, and not every child has their own books at home," said Sandy Giacobbi, executive director of Community in Schools. "We saw this is a great way to get books into kids' hands."

Ms. Giacobbi will travel to each school with Susan Simpson, librarian for the Carteret County public library system, to hand out books to children in grades pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. Ms. Simpson will also use the opportunity to promote the public library's summer reading programs.

"The theme of our summer reading program is Buggy for Books and will stress insects, bugs and being bookworms," said Ms. Simpson. "I'll also be sharing about our storytelling festival that will be going on in July."

As well as regular summer reading programs, each Wednesday in July the public library system will sponsor a professional storyteller at two locations: The History Place in Morehead City , 10 a.m.; and White Oak Elementary School in Cape Carteret , 2 p.m.

Ms. Simpson said she was looking forward to handing out books and promoting quality literature. Books range from Miracle on 49th Street to Martin Luther King Jr.

"A lot of children come from families who can't afford new books, and they can be expensive," she said. "For children to have their own books to read is like having a new friend. And hopefully they'll share their books with their parents and siblings."

Jeanne Simpson, assistant superintendent in charge of curriculum and instruction for the county school system, said she was grateful to the two groups for promoting reading in such a unique way. She was also excited that Ms. Simpson would promote the summer reading programs.

"We're always looking for opportunities to get great literature into our children's homes, and these are some great books," she said. "We're really pushing the summer reading programs because during the school year they have access to our libraries, but during the summer they don't have that access at home. So it's great that we can give the children books to take home to read."

Bogue Sound Elementary School librarian Meg Bradford sees this week's event as an opportunity to get children excited about reading.

"We are always trying to instill the love of reading into the children," she said. "This will give the children that sense of ownership, and it will hopefully keep them reading during the summer. It's important that they read during the summer so they don't lose the skills they learned during the school year."

While next week's event will concentrate on public school libraries, National Library Week is a time to celebrate all libraries, according to Ms. Simpson.

"Actually Carteret County has a wealth of libraries," she said. "There are four publicly funded libraries. Then there's the Webb Library ( Morehead City ) that is not part of our system but is still open to the public," she said. "There's another library Down East, a library at Carteret Community College , church libraries and what I call academic libraries at places like Duke Marine Lab and the UNC-Institute of Marine Sciences. This is just a time to celebrate all libraries."

Ms. Simpson encouraged everyone to celebrate the week by visiting their favorite library and taking advantage of the variety of services.

"Libraries offer a lot of services," she said. "We offer traditional services to new and more modern services. We provide resources in print, but also offer access to computers and Web pages."

Ms. Giacobbi encouraged parents to celebrate the week by reading with their children.

"I hope parents will find some time every day to read with their children," she said. "It makes such a difference in their self esteem and academics at school."

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association.

For more information, call Ms. Giacobbi, 726-1952, or Ms. Simpson, 728-2050.

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