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Escambia County Students Celebrated Books!

Escambia County Students Celebrated Books!

“Is this all mine, to keep forever?”

Guest post by Kim Stefansson, Public Relations Coordinator, Escambia County School District

Recently the first grade students in eleven elementary schools in Escambia County, Florida were the recipients of a wonderful gift – books to keep forever! Every student received three books each, thanks to the generosity of International Paper and the efforts of Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) to turn donations into a way to give books to children.

Each of the Escambia County School District (ECSD) schools created their own plan for book distribution. Some went with what they considered the traditional RIF book event where a variety of books are laid out on tables and the children picked their own, while others selected specific titles and planned themed events. The schools selected were in the vicinity of an International Paper mill so their staff could participate in some of the events.

Lipscomb Elementary hosted a Big Book Breakfast with International Paper’s help. Together, they treated the students to donuts and apple juice and a special reading and performance of the book If You Give A Dog A Donut, by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond, in which a dog also enjoys a donut and apple juice. Special visitors included International Paper’s mascot Pinelope, Mill Manager Scott Taylor and a team of employees, as well as two elected officials, Bill Slayton, the ECSD District 5 School Board member, and District 5 Escambia County Commissioner, Stephen Barry. Two more Numeroff/Bond book titles rounded out the set of three books received by Lipscomb’s students.

“I was most inspired by the team effort that made this event such a success. My grade level pitched in and our partners from International Paper were excited to be a part of the breakfast and readily helped with every part of the program. Our students adored Pinelope and enjoyed meeting new friends,” said Betsy Eggart, Lipscomb’s International Paper/RIF book project coordinator.

“Not all children have access to a variety of books in their home and this was a special way to provide a little reading material over the summer,” Eggart explained. “As each of my students opened their books and read their name printed on the bookplates provided by RIF, I saw their faces light up because they knew the book was theirs to keep.”

Other fun events included: Bratt Elementary School’s Teddy Bear Picnic; Jim Allen’s students Popped Into Books with a popcorn party; McArthur had a PJ party and included a local children’s book author; Ensley Elementary students were Wild About Reading when they found their books and animal characters.

Guest readers from International Paper visited every first grade classroom at Longleaf Elementary School and Whitney Fike from International Paper’s Public Relations team read to students at Beulah Elementary. Pine Meadow Elementary School turned their book distribution into an event that had the spirit of an awards ceremony crossed with pep rally for books. As kids left, books in hand, the others chanted, “Read! Read! Read!”

“When we make reading something to celebrate,” added Eggart. “It becomes something so special to our children.”