NASHUA — Local schools are teaming up with Barnes & Noble to give literacy a boost by creating individual classroom libraries in elementary schools throughout the district.
Superintendent Mark Conrad has repeatedly made the case that one of the first steps in inspiring kids to become lifelong, independent readers is to get books into their hands. Individual classroom libraries give kids a chance to read early, and often.
Since the school budget didn’t include the funding to create 320 individual classroom libraries, Conrad and Stacy Hynes, who heads up grants and community development for the school district, enlisted the help of Barnes & Noble to launch a yearlong community fundraising campaign to provide 6,400 books for the libraries. And there are several different ways for people to get on board with the project.
Over the course of the school year, Barnes & Noble will host a book fair for each school. Amherst Elementary will kick off the scheduled fairs during the first two weeks of October.
Barnes & Noble Manager Jennifer Wagner said participants at the fair register at the store. A portion of money shoppers spend on books will be used to provide a gift card to teachers who can then buy books for the classroom libraries.
During the book fairs, customers can also purchase books from a list and donate them directly to the schools.
“It’s almost like a double dip,” said Wagner. “Even a portion of the proceeds from those donated books will go back to the teachers.”
For Board of Education Chairman Robert Hallowell, holding book fairs at Barnes & Noble offers kids the chance to roam through stacks of books and discover something that grabs their interest.
“There’s nothing like wandering around a bookstore and finding a book you didn’t know existed,” he said.
In addition to the book fairs, Barnes & Noble has selected the Nashua School District as the recipient of the store’s Holiday Non-Profit Book Drive. From Nov. 1 through Jan. 1, books for the classroom libraries will be displayed at store registers. As customers pay for purchases, store staff will invite them to participate in the book drive by buying and donating a book to the schools.
Although adults may want to donate favorite books they remember from their own childhoods, Wagner said teachers already created lists with carefully selected titles.
“The books they have chosen are in line with the Common Core standards and are for different grade levels,” said Wagner. “Not every book is appropriate .”
Throughout the year, school book fairs will be announced through the school e-news and publicized through notices at the bookstore.
As a mom of an 8-year-old reader and someone who is in the book business, Wagner said the classroom libraries are a great project that she believes will help encourage kids to read.
“It’s huge, and it’s very exciting,” she said.