An ownership stake in reading
Half the fun of volunteering to help with Reading is Fundamental Day at Tonganoxie Elementary School is watching children's faces as they circle the table, where books are displayed.
"It is fun, especially when they find one and say, oh, this is the one I really wanted," said Marcy Erickson, who along with Diane Truesdell has helped with RIF for several years. "That's how we learn what to order the next time. We take note of what they ask for. For example, one of the boys asked for a book on drawing."
And now, Erickson and Truesdell have added that type of book to their list.
Three times a year -- in October, January and March -- students in kindergarten through third grade pick out a RIF book at the Community Education and Volunteer Center, which is adjacent to the elementary school. The program, which is led locally by Earletta Morey, director of the volunteer center, is federally funded with additional money from the school district and Parent-Teacher Association. The PTA has donated enough money for fourth- through sixth-graders to participate in the program twice a year, in October and March.
The goal is simple: To put books in the hands of children.
"At times, I wish we could really pin-point the kids who are the neediest because we have some extra books sometimes," said Erickson, who along with Morey and Truesdell works on book orders and decorations along specific RIF themes.
Morey, who is known in elementary school circles as "The RIF Lady," said she enjoys watching the children pore over the books, carefully selecting the exact book they want to take home.
"It's great," she said. "Especially the kindergartners. They love the decorations. They're so new at it. They've never done it before. The teachers usually have them walk around the table at least once before they choose a book."
Morey and others hope that RIF Day sparks a love for reading among children who otherwise might not have many of their own books.
"There are some kids who don't get to buy a lot of books at home," Morey said. "But this is theirs. They don't have to ask for it. Hopefully, it makes them want to read more. That's the goal: We want kids to read."