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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Thankful for many things

November 30, 2010

One day every year is set aside to give thanks and to remember our history. History and family often come together. Sometimes it's through family stories shared around a dinner table or even books shared aloud. These are often times worth remembering as well as worthy of thanksgiving.

My sister works in a Title I school in Florida. The staff works hard to involve parents while empowering them to help themselves and their children. While making it fun and always free (often with food — the three primary factors in family programming!), the school staff contributes to family histories.

They hold the conviction books and stories are a fine way to engage parents with the school and their children in a lasting way. It seems to work.

Family Book Bingo events where books are prizes and parents and their children have fun with the game while building family stories are a school tradition now. Book Bingo nights are extremely well attended as are the other activities for families.

Starting around this time each year, the school staff works to provide the children in this pre-K through grade 5 school of over 500 students with something that all kids need. In the past they've given children items of clothing and small toys.

But this year, they're trying to collect new books for distribution to all of the children. Again, it's a group effort; the entire staff knows that books are gifts that last and can be shared multiple times and are often worthy of being passed down from one generation to the next.

If you know of a reliable source of new books for children from Head Start age to grade 5, let me know. You'll be building your own stories while helping other families.


First Book and Better World Books are two resources to check. It's almost a year since you wrote the article, but I just found it while browsing today.

Every December I bring a special book to school to read to my students. I read several stories to the children and then show them the inscription written in the front of the book, “Merry Christmas, Mary. 1957”! This book is a treasure of mine that Santa gave me when I was 6 years old! Folk Tales Children Love was read to me every night by either my parents or older siblings for many years. Books make a wonderful holiday gift!

Maria what a great piece about our wonderful students and staff. Yes, we care a great deal about the children and do want to enrich their lives with books. Thank you for the plug and I do hope we have benefactors who can help us this holiday season.

Thank you for the "plug" for our school. It still amazes me how few of our childen actually own their own books -- and hopefully this will be a much merrier holiday season for them!

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"What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person ..." —

Carl Sagan