FALCONER - Books are an important part of a child's development. Not every child has access to them, though. However, this will be something students at H.C. Fenner Elementary School will not have to worry about due to the "Be Inspired" Literacy Award.
Sponsored by Disney and ABC Television Group, First Book-Western New York hosted a Laps for Literacy walk at Eastern Hills Mall in Williamsville on May 4. It was at this event that Fenner, along with 25 other schools, received a grant to receive free books for students in their schools.
"Their goal is to give out a brand new book to kids who don't necessarily have the means to buy books or get books," said Cindy Nutt, a reading specialist at Fenner Elementary School. Fenner is the only school in Chautauqua County to receive the award. Earlier in the year, however, the Early Care and Education Program at the YWCA received a book grant.
Nutt said she thought that the school would only be receiving 100 books, but they ended up receiving enough for the entire school - about 250 books in total. The books range from picture books to chapter books to joke books.
Nutt, and another reading specialist - Sue Arrance - are members of the Chautauqua County Reading Council. The council would always have books they would give the women for free, prompting Nutt to ask them where they received the free books, thus learning about First Book. After signing up for First Book in the fall, she received an email saying there was a grant available giving out free books.
"I was like 'Great!' We signed up for the program and the books are really inexpensive. They are great books, there is really low shipping, but we don't have the funds to buy the books," she said. Then the Friday after Easter, the women received word the school had received the grant.
"If kids don't read over the summer, we notice a decline in their reading skills and abilities come fall," Nutt said.
First Book-Western New York has provided over 7,300 free new books to over 42 programs in all eight counties in Western New York since June 2013. For more information or to get involved with First Book-Western New York, visit its website at www.firstbook.org/westernny or email firstname.lastname@example.org.