Donations feed appetite for reading in Tonganoxie
Book donations help provide ‘Hunger Games’ copies for entire grade level
What started out as a casual discussion during parent-teacher conferences has turned into an outpouring of book donations nationwide to a Tonganoxie Middle School classroom.
Debbie Holloway was having a discussion with Kara Reed, whose daughter, Bryn, is in Holloway’s eighth-grade literature class.
Both Holloway and Reed are avid readers. Reed asked Holloway what an ideal book for students to read would be.
Holloway mentioned “The Hunger Games.”
In the excitement of the moment, Reed had an idea to collect books so all students in Holloway’s class would have a copy to read.
“It happened because of her enthusiasm,” Reed said. “And getting kids excited about reading is totally contagious.”
Reed reached out to friends and others asking if they’d like to donate books to the class. Donations came from Illinois, New York, Colorado, Tennessee, Washington state and, of course, Kansas.
After a few days, Reed had confirmation of some 100 books. One friend donated roughly 50 books.
Holloway had about 30 copies of the book, so she already was using the novel as part of her curriculum. That means, for instance, that one class period would read that book, a second class period another title and a third a different book.
With the donation helping provide a copy for all of her eighth-grade students, Holloway said she could add aspects to her instruction. This summer, she discussed online with other instructors additional ways to teach by having an entire grade level read a novel collectively.
“This will enable an entire class to be able to read the same book, the same novel at the same time,” Holloway said. “That can lead to some really cool projects.”
The different classes could represent different “districts” mentioned in the book. With copies for all the students, teaching opportunities increase, she said.
“It gives us the opportunity to do some more enrichment activities,” Holloway said.
The literature and reading teacher has budget money available for books. It just so happens that people’s passion for reading has translated into book donations.
The district’s parent teacher organization has donated books, as have former students and district librarian Barbara Bahm. Tonganoxie resident Peachez Joles also gathered books to give to students in the district.
And books have been donated during the school’s book fair. Holloway has tried to “pay it forward” by purchasing books at the fairs for teachers to use.
Teachers haven’t solicited for books, it’s just something patrons have wanted to do — donate reading material in an effort to get youths interested in reading.
Holloway has a library of sorts in her classroom. She estimated she had 500 books in her classroom, along with a makeshift reading area with chairs and a couch. Holloway said she hopes the variety of books helps students not just read for coursework. It’s hoped the materials help foster independent reading.
As for “The Hunger Games,” Holloway is eager to incorporate more instruction with the additional books.
“Despite the fact the kids probably have seen the movie several times, I think it was one of those books that would lend itself to being read,” Holloway said. “You could read it several times and find something new.
“There are so many topics that could be discussed with that and a lot of little projects and a lot of little things to learn from in my opinion.”