(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Diehl Elementary School has been selected as one of seven schools nationwide to host a free book fair.
The book fair was made possible by Scholastic to promote “book equity” and ABC television as part of its effort to promote its comedy series, “Abbott Elementary.”
Scholastic selected schools by reviewing its data on which schools nationwide hadn’t hosted book fairs and which schools underperformed when they hosted book fairs.
Community School Director for Diehl, Karen Donnelly, said Diehl hadn’t been hosting book fairs at all. Word that Diehl had been selected came through the school secretary, she said.
“She emailed me to tell me the phone call from Scholastic wasn’t a scam,” Donnelly said, laughing. “Some schools refuse the book fair – why a school would refuse, I haven’t a clue.”
Diehl serves about 420 students from diverse populations.
“Many students don’t have an opportunity to get personal books, and the little free library out front is very much frequented,” Donnelly said. “For many of these kids, getting a book means a lot.”
In years past, Diehl has hosted a book drive, where each student received one book. In the case of the book drives, the teachers chose which books the students received.
In the free Scholastic book fair, the students get two books, and they get to choose which books they get from several book shelves worth of books across a range of reading abilities.
“Students are 98% more likely to read a book that they pick on their own, that’s a statistic that Scholastic shared with us,” Donnelly said.
School librarian Christine Feasler said several of the titles had been cleared out already, with two groups of the third- through fifth-graders left to choose.
“Dog Man,” a graphic novel series by Dav Pilkey was the first book to sell out.
“Graphic novel books are designed to make kids read on a collegiate level, but they don’t know they’re reading on a collegiate level,” Feasler said. “They really love the graphic novels.”
Several coding and “Minecraft” video-game-themed titles also were sold out. The “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books stock was getting thin, and “Dork Diaries” was completely sold out.
“This has been extraordinary,” Feasler said. “Everything they’d read normally on our shelves (in the school library) is flying off these shelves.”
And it’s not just the students, that are excited – teachers also are appreciating the free fair. Teachers receive 10 free books through the book fair.
“They’re probably just as excited as the kids are,” Donnelly said. “Some teachers are getting multiple copies of the same book so they can do reading groups. Others are getting individual books to lend to students so the students can read more than two books.”
Principal Tim Sabol said the book fair is “spectacular.”
“We’re so lucky to be one of seven schools selected for the book fair,” Sabol said.
The teachers and students sharing the fair is special as well.
“We talk about ‘bless the book,’ which means sharing information,” Sabol said. “A kid might get a book and then Mrs. Smith also gets the book, and it’s like, ‘Wow, Mrs. Smith picked out the same book I got!’”
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The book fair was scheduled to be held over two days, March 14 and March 15.