Partner Spotlight is on Perez Elementary School.
With BookSpring’s Books for Me program this month, Perez Elementary librarian Randi Sather transformed her library into a picturesque, serene campsite. I got the chance to visit Ms. Sather on two event days. On the first day, she took her first and second graders on an exhilarating bear hunt, chanting with them the refrain:
We’re going on a bear hunt.
We’re gonna catch a big one.
What a beautiful day!
We’re not scared.
She guided her students through a grassy field, a roaring river, a forest overrun with roots and brush, a thick layer of mud, a brutal snowstorm, and a dark cave. The class stumbled into a giant bear and screamed, making their escape, trudging back through the natural obstacles they overcame to get there. Everyone took a sigh of relief in their beds, with the covers pulled over their heads. The class nodded in agreement as Ms. Sather delivered the last line of the story: “We’re not going on a bear hunt again.” The kiddos—and I—felt a real sense of relief. We’d gone on a crazy adventure.
Ms. Sather then rounded up the class and marched them around the tables where the books lay. She set clear expectations: the first lap was meant for looking, not touching. But I could already see interest brewing around specific titles. Students would begin to walk slower when they noticed books they liked, like in a game of musical chairs when you’re expecting the music to stop. Ms. Sather told everyone that there must be no fighting over books and that if you choose the same title as someone else, a game of Eenie Meenie will decide it. Once the students picked their books, Ms. Sather sent them to read independently. Students were so excited to dive into their new books.
During my second visit, Ms. Sather hosted a class of fourth-graders. She sat in a camp chair and asked them about their knowledge of, and experience with, camping. Ms. Sather looked the part: she wore a National Park Service t-shirt, a bucket hat, and sandals. A pair of binoculars hung around her neck. She lit the fire and asked students to hold out their marshmallows to make sure they got nice and toasty.
Ms. Sather brought the class over to the monitor and shared photos from her personal camping experiences, opening the floor for questions. Then, she handed out Every Kid Outdoors passes, which grant every fourth grader free access to all National Parks!
The students were eager to choose their books and begin reading. It was inspiring to see how Ms. Sather’s above-and-beyond effort created a positive, enthusiastic reading culture.
BookSpring will work with you to ensure the Books for Me program works for your school and your students.