All 600 students at Champion Elementary, a Title I school, have a personal book collection this summer.
Most of the students at Champion Elementary School live in Holly Hill, where there is currently no library. Though Ormond Beach and Daytona Beach Regional Libraries are not too far away, many of the students' families don't own cars, leaving the children bookless for summer break.
The school's speech pathologist Robin Weiss saw the need and decided it was the community's responsibility to fill it.
"There was a huge void," she said. "We're a Title I school, and a substantial number of our children live below the poverty line, making it very difficult for them to access books."
Thanks to the help of local community organizations, Weiss was able to gather more than 3,000 books to distribute to the 600 students before summer break began. Champions' Parent Teacher Association helped by donating $600 to buy $1 books straight from Scholastic. Every child got a brand new book that was all their own.
"The kids were so excited," Weiss said. "Many were running up to me and telling me their personal interests and seeing if I had books on those topics. One of the main things I heard from the kids was, 'Do we get to keep these?'"
The overwhelming positive response from students inspired Weiss to hold the Books for Bears drive again not once, but three times next year. She said research has proven kids who don't read over the summer are more likely to experience academic regression.
"We want our kids to progress," she said. "It supports overall academic success. The more you read, the better you get at it."
Anyone interested in donating to Weiss' next book drive can email her at [email protected].
What's your favorite book?
A few Champion Elementary School students told The Observer why they love their favorite books.
- "I like 'Goosebumps,' because it's not scary. It's just medium, and I don't like scary," said Danielle McMamara, 9.
- "My favorite is 'Diary of A Wimpy Kid' because it's funny and has a lot of cool things in it," Faith Schroeder, 8.
- "I really like competitive books between brothers and sisters because it's fun to see who wins," said Peter Knorr, 10.
- "'The Hungry, Hungry Catapiller,' because I like it," Mason Dail, 6.
- "I like all kinds, especially nonfiction," said Thomas McMamara, 12.
- "'Lemonade War,' because the brother puts flies in his sister's lemonade," said Skyler Schroeder, 11.