The Sherrills Ford Friends of the Library has a literacy program whose aim is to link the school, library and home so that children will have ample opportunities to read.
Throughout the school year, the Friends sends volunteers to first-grade classrooms at Catawba and Sherrills Ford elementary schools to share a book. Each class gets to keep it. One teacher said she has built quite a classroom library that way.
The Friends also sends a reading kit with each book, which includes a journal and activities that each student can take home for a night and share with the family.
I joined Barbara Nelson and Vonda Freeman on a recent visit to Sherrills Ford, where they read “Wild About Books,” by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Marc Brown.
My visit – in verse
It started nearby on a morning in May
When two library friends, books in hand, made their way
To five first-grade classes at Sherrills Ford School,
Whose teachers, greeting the ladies, then said, “You'll
Come to the rug for a story so cool.”
And 16 little persons – or so – in each room
Stopped adding or writing and rushed to assume
A spot on the rug, a large map of the world,
Parked their rumps on Australia, or with a friend curled,
To hear rhymes and stories and see pictures unfurled.
“Time to listen,” Mrs. Nelson instructed the students.
The teacher snapped her fingers at any imprudence.
For a morning in May, and a Friday at that,
And any such glitch in the usual format
Causes 6-year-olds bunched on a rug to chitchat.
“I know when school's out!” said one loquacious boy,
Eager to share with this visitor his joy,
While his red-haired classmate, who, in spite of the roar,
Sat pertly picking her teeth on the floor
And talked to her neighbor, and then talked some more.
But when the book opened, the kids could agree
That the colorful pictures were something to see,
In “Wild About Books,” illustrated by Marc Brown
Of “Arthur” and “Baby Bear, What Do You See?” renown
So that even the chattiest children calmed down.
The book tells the story of Molly McGrew,
Who takes a library bookmobile to the zoo,
Where otters, wary of reading at first,
Soon learn that some books can be fully immersed,
And hyenas for joke books develop a thirst.
Our library has all kinds of books on its shelves,
And kids, like the zoo animals, in spite of themselves,
Can find books they like to take home and share,
With dad, mom and grandma or anyone there,
So Ms. Nelson and Ms. Freeman made them aware.
And they gave to the children, one for every class,
A journal and book, so that each lad and lass
Could share “Wild About Books” with their families at night,
Look at the pictures, and laugh with delight,
And come up with their own journal entries to write.
Yes, summer is coming, and these friends with their books,
Will retire to their favorite summer-book nooks,
And next year they'll have new first-graders to greet.
But if you want new books and new friends to meet,
Just go to the library right down the street.
Erica Batten is a freelance writer.