Midland Elementary students lead drive to add 200-plus books to school library

       A book drive led by students is adding more than 200 books to the Midland Elementary library.

Midland Elementary librarian Amanda Thompson is joined by some of her best book adopters (from left) Kian O'Boyle, Pierce Cardin, Blakeley Bennett, Marley Bonderenko and David Velleff.
Westside Pioneer photo

       “It's been heartfelt. It's been really cool,” said school librarian Amanda Thompson.
       She set the drive in motion early this year, pointing out the aged condition of the library's books and the lack of many that have become popular in recent years.
       Particularly, she said, “I was appalled at the condition of the fiction books. No matter how good a book is, kids are not going to read it if it's crusty and old.”
       In all, the drive raised nearly $2,900, which will mean about 225 new books total, once they all arrive. During the weeks of the drive, money came in from the kids themselves, their relatives and various people who work in School District 11. Only one business donated, giving $50.
       “I get kind of choked up when I think about how generous people are when it comes to books and reading,” said Thompson, who chose the new books based on scholarly needs as well as individual requests. “There's this concern that books will go away and everyone will have a Kindle [a computer device that allows books to be read online].”
       The drive was structured so that people could “adopt” a book of their choosing. Thompson found that the typical cost per book was $12 to $18, but help from an anonymous donor allowed her to set the adoption amount at $10 a book.
       When the initial shipment of nearly 200 books recently arrived in the mail, the library had a party. There were refreshments, and kids who had adopted books got to be the first to check one of them out. A marker on each adopted book's fly page states who the adopter was and the year.
       In all, 26 Midland students adopted books. The highest number adopted was 25, by second-grader Dustin Turner. Blakeley Bennett, also a second-grader, adopted 15.
       Part of the drive involved a video that Thompson shot, then posted on the Midland Elementary website, in which students talked about what reading means to them. One of those was kindergartener Pierce Cardin, who's developed an interest in tornadoes. He said he is spurred by “how much I like weather, and I need to learn more so I can be something and chase these storms.”
       Blakeley said on the video, “When I go to the library, I think it's somewhere magical and enchanting to read books.”
       Zodock Martinez, a fifth-grader, explained, “I really love the Percy Jackson series, but there's only one copy so I need to borrow from another schools, so I'd really like us to have all the Percy Jackson books.”
       Said Thompson: “The story to me really is that this was our kids taking direct action to help their library. It wasn't the PTA, it was a totally student thing. It was neat to see that. This is by far the most successful fundraiser we've had here.”

Westside Pioneer article