With a couple thousand dollars’ worth of books in tow, officials from the Santa Clarita Valley Education Foundation visited Placerita Junior High and surprised students with a free book giveaway Thursday.
During their morning classes, more than 100 students had been awarded “Golden Tickets” based on a number of criteria, and were asked to come to the library during their lunch break, said Placerita Principal John Turner.
When they arrived they were greeted — and surprised — with two free book vouchers.
“Each student gets to pick out two books, and we have a variety of genres that the librarians (at the schools) picked knowing what books the kids want to read,” said SCVEF Executive Director Jackie Hartman. “And we got three or four copies of each.”
Stacks of books set up around the library had titles such as “Harry Potter,” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” and “I Funny.” In all, more than 90 different book titles will be available to choose from, according to SCVEF member Renee Marshall, who was helping at the event.
“(These) are the ones that fly off the shelves in the library and (they) don’t have enough for the students,” said Marshall. “The goal is to engage them, increase the size of their library at home, and get them excited about reading.”
Some students said during the event they read a lot at home for school, but not as much when they’re not required to. But being given ownership of not one, but two brand new books they chose for themselves has had an effect on how they view extracurricular reading.
“I read for school a lot and sometimes I’ll read for fun,” said 7th-grader Noah Wiese. “But, They didn’t tell us what we had won, and we got here and it was super exciting. Because what’s more fun than something being free?”
The books were purchased with the help of a $5,000 grant from the City of Santa Clarita and a $2,500 grant from Lockheed Martin Aero Cares, according to Hartmann. The money was then put towards a new SCVEF program, “Page Turners,” which plans to hold book drives at La Mesa and Sierra Vista junior high schools as well.
“Every study shows that students that have access to books in their home are higher achievers,” said Jennifer Overdevst, one of the three librarians involved in the program. “And being able to own a book means being able to return to your favorite chapter, or share it with a friend or even read it again.”
For more information about SCVEF and/or their Page Turners program, visit the organization’s website at www.scveducationfoundation.org.