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Read It Forward: Princeton Charter School’s Day of Service Celebrates Books in Education

BOOKS WORTH SHARING: Students at Princeton Charter School (PCS) box up books donated for a project that will culminate on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Service Day, January 20. The books will be passed along to another school where they will provide mini classroom-libraries for students. The project is a new initiative this year and may become an annual event.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Charter School)

BOOKS WORTH SHARING: Students at Princeton Charter School (PCS) box up books donated for a project that will culminate on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Service Day, January 20. The books will be passed along to another school where they will provide mini classroom-libraries for students. The project is a new initiative this year and may become an annual event. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Charter School)

Princeton Charter School (PCS) starts the New Year with a Day of Service project that will culminate on Martin Luther King Jr. Day later this month. Students, parents, and faculty are “paying it forward” with a unique project that aims to build independent reading libraries for classrooms in need.

Starting the week of January 13, the school will be collecting new and used books from its students. The donated books will be sorted by reading level, labeled by genre, and then packed into boxes for delivery to eligible faculty for use in their classrooms. When opened, the boxes will provide mini classroom libraries and instant access to “kid-read and approved” books.

This unique approach to sharing is the brainchild of PCS English teacher Laurie Ludgin who realized that there was a need for in-classroom libraries while attending a professional development conference offered by The Reading and Writing Project of Teachers College, Columbia University.

During one conference session, recalled Ms. Ludgin, a fellow participant asked Presenter Lucy Calkins, director of The Reading and Writing Project, “What do I do if I don’t have a classroom library?”

Ms. Calkins’s response was simple, bold and to the point. She said: “You change schools. You can’t teach students to read, if you don’t have books in your classroom.” The effect of Ms. Calkins’s words on the PCS teacher was immediate. Ms. Ludgin was inspired to begin the work of getting independent reading libraries into the hands of dedicated teachers so that they can open the world of reading for their students.

“Not every school has a library and this is a way for children to share books that they love with others,” said Ms. Ludgin. “I know from my own classroom that students love to pass along books to younger students. They will often write notes in the front of the book for future readers. This effort is a way to build a community of readers and we are collecting books from pre-K through 6th grade.” According to Ms. Ludgin, now in her fourth year at PCS, favorite authors include Judy Blume (Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret), Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House series), Eric Carle (The Very Hungry Caterpillar), Dan Gutman (My Weird School series) and Patricia MacLachlan (Sarah Plain and Tall).”

“Laurie Ludgin is such an inspiration, a fantastic English teacher and someone who models the ideal qualities one wants in a teacher: commitment to her discipline, compassion for students, and the organizational skills to put a project like this in motion,” commented Assistant Head of School Lisa Eckstrom.

“We hope that [this] will become an annual event and that it will grow and grow,” she said. “We’ll be collecting, sorting, and then donating books for young readers to a school with very few resources. The idea is to sort books by categories and reading level to make it very simple for our sister school to put the books to use.”

“Princeton is such a book loving town and this project says a lot about who we are. It involves a direct teacher to teacher transfer so that nothing is going to get lost or sit in a warehouse. We’re very excited about it,” said Ms. Eckstrom.

The Princeton Charter School is located at 100 Bunn Drive in Princeton. Registration for the entrance lottery ends on Monday, January 6, at noon.

For more information, call (609) 924-0575, or visit: www.princetoncharter.org.

 

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