HILLSBORO, Ore. -- At Witch Hazel Elementary School, the faces of 2nd graders reveal the focus and excitement of this moment.
They stare intently at the hundreds of books spread out on shelving in the gym. They can only take four home. They much choose carefully.
This is the day the students get free books, to take home to read over the summer and to keep forever. The books are trophies and milestones, made precious by loving teachers like Stacey Elwood.
“Ooohhh, what about this? 'Horrible Harry?'” Elwood asks. The student says no.
“Oh. Okay, I was really hoping you'd get a chapter book, though," she said, refusing to give up.
Reading specialist Laura Lee Sheller says the books bridge a gap in many homes.
“A lot of these students don’t have any books at home and this gets them at least a few books to read over the summer,” she says.
It’s clear the kids at the school love to read. The teachers created a culture where it’s 'cool' to move up to chapter books.
Back in the classroom, the 2nd graders dive into their new books, reading out loud, sometimes to stuffed animals they call their reading buddies.
“Okay, let's take a nap and let’s take a big breath and let's think about it," a boy reads out loud.
Through out the school, 527 kids will take home more than 2,100 books for summer reading. Each is donated by someone in the greater Portland area to Bazillion books.
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