A teacher's need for books and a civic organization's mission to help children were the perfect ingredients for a project that was rewarding for both parties.
During the BIG Project, the Cartersville Kiwanis Club sought sponsors to buy grade-level books on the Bookworms reading program list to stock Amber Corbin's third-grade classroom at Euharlee Elementary School.
Local clubs, businesses and individuals were asked to adopt one of the 15 titles and to purchase a set of 26 copies of that title.
By the end of the two-week solicitation period between June 27 and July 12, every title had a sponsor, and the club was able to secure 390 books valued at more than $2,000 for Corbin's classroom library.
"This is a great opportunity for the community to get to know our wonderful schools," club President Dr. Linda Denham said. "Give them a set of books [and] have the bookplate with your name and who or what the book is dedicated to. When those children open those books, they will see your name and know that there is an entire community that cares about their education."
Corbin, who asked for 26 copies of each title to accommodate future growth in her class, was beyond happy that the club stepped up to buy the books.
"I was deeply moved by the outpouring of support from the Kiwanis Club and their many sponsors," she said. "Our school appreciates the investment in our students' futures from our community."
She also said the donation "made it possible to have the entire collection at one time instead of adding books when financially feasible."
Euharlee Principal Dr. Sharon Collum said she was "truly amazed at the generosity" of the club members.
"They have been so incredibly supportive and willing to give their resources and time," she said. "This generous donation will be used not only this year, but for years to come with our third-graders. Great quality literature is timeless."
Denham said the Kiwanis Club — an international service organization that "puts a great emphasis on children" with programs such as its Priority One project — has bought books from the Scholastic Book Fair "for years" and gets a "great discount."
"I asked Mrs. Corbin if there were any books we could get for her," she said. "She responded by sending me the Bookworm project reading list. There were 15 books listed; she needed 26 copies of each book. I thought, my goodness, that is a big project, and we are a small club, but we can find a way to do this."
The Cartersville chiropractor said she didn't know about the Bookworm program until Corbin explained it to her, and now she's "fascinated" by it.
"I loved the approach to reading and writing that the Bookworm program took," she said. "The teacher reads one of the 15 books in the sets of books designated for that grade level. While the teacher reads out loud, each student has the book in their hands, following along. Audio learners [and] sight learners are taught at the same time. Then the children break into groups of two, and they take turns reading aloud to each other. Then they hone their writing skills by writing about what they have read."
Corbin said she uses Bookworms in conjunction with the school district's curriculum to supplement instruction.
"Bookworms is a part of a literacy program that gives students the opportunity to read and write more, using complex texts," she said. "Instruction can be differentiated for different learning styles and levels."
She said she likes the program because her students are able to read along with her.
"Having each student with a book in their hands provides opportunities for auditory and visual learners," she said. "This helps to increase fluency and comprehension."
The books that were stocked in Corbin's library, along with their sponsors, were "Ancient Civilizations: Ancient Greece," Chris Allen from Taverna Mediterranean Grill; "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane," Janice Hackney; "And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?," Virginia Garrison; "Because of Winn-Dixie," Denham; "A True Book Natural Resource – Soil," Ladd’s Farm Supply; "Fudge-A-Mania," Tranquility Senior Living; "American History: The Congress of the United States," Michael and Justine Tidwell; "American History: The Constitution of the United States," Euharlee Senior Center, Betty Jane Tilley; "Magic Tree House Fact Tracker Twisters and Other Terrible Storms," the Cartersville Kiwanis Club; "A Picture Book of Frederick Douglass," the Dar Nel Jackson family; "Here Lies the Librarian," Liz Gentry; "Owen Foote, Money Man," Peachtree Planning; "Minerals, Rocks and Soil," Lynne Pritchett; "Childhood of Famous Americans — Susan B. Anthony: Champion of Women’s Rights," Cartersville AAUW; and "Who Was Franklin Roosevelt?," Julie Simmons Jones.
Because the club wanted to make sure the books were in her classroom by the first day of school, Corbin picked them up at Denham's office.
"We have already begun our first shared reading book ['Owen Foote, Money Man'], and our students are so engaged in the story," Corbin said, noting they'll use the books every day.
Denham said she went to Corbin's class Friday morning to read "Because of Winn-Dixie," the book she purchased in memory of her dog, Jolene, "the best dog ever."
"Kiwanis Clubs all over the world make it a point to read to children," she said. "I want children to know that reading can be fun. The third grade is a great year to get children interested in reading. It will make the rest of their school years more enjoyable and productive."
She also shared with them a short story she wrote about Jolene because she wanted them "to see that anyone can write."
Denham added the club will have a formal presentation for the books at the awards ceremony following the Kiddie Day Parade Sept. 15, and Corbin will present "thank yous" to each sponsor.
After being able to secure all the titles Corbin wanted for her classroom, the club "still had people wanting to sponsor sets of books," Denham said, so now members have taken on a second BIG Project for Amy Grace Cooper's third-grade class at Mission Road Elementary.
Cooper requested the same books and same number of copies as Corbin.
As of Friday, seven of the 15 books still needed sponsors: "Ancient Civilizations: Ancient Greece," $135.26; "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane," $128.70; "And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?," $116.22; "Magic Tree House Fact Tracker Twisters and Other Terrible Storms," $123.50; "Here Lies the Librarian," $158.86; "Minerals, Rocks and Soil," $233.74; and "Childhood of Famous Americans — Susan B. Anthony: Champion of Women's Rights," $141.18.
Any civic club, business or individual that would like to buy a set of books should pick a title and call Denham at 770-386-2598 to reserve that sponsorship.