ISHPEMING - Growing up, many children were read to by their parents - whether at bedtime or throughout the day.
The Marquette-Alger Reading Council wants to see that every child has the opportunity to read or be read to by distributing books through their Gift of Reading fundraiser.
The Aspen Ridge School started collecting new and gently used books in November to donate to the Ishpeming Salvation Army for their Christmas toy drive and wrapped it up Friday.
Aspen Ridge School students, including Melissa Erickson’s first-grade class shown here, collected new and gently used books for the Marquette-Alger Reading Council’s Gift of Reading project. The school collected more than 300 books this year. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Last year, kindergarten through fifth-grade students participated in the book drive, collecting 110 books to donate. This year the entire school, pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, participated. Together they collected more than 300 books.
"I don't know the final tally yet, but our goal was to collect 300 books and we are well past that goal," said Melissa Erickson, MARC building representative and first-grade teacher at Aspen Ridge.
According to Erickson, the students have been bringing to school books which either their parents bought for the drive or which they no longer use. There was also a dropoff box at the office and outside Erickson's classroom.
"It's a big deal for (my kids) I think, especially since they can be really hands on with it," Erickson said. "I think they are really getting the message how important it is to give to those in need and just be an active member in their community and just how important it is that every child has the opportunity to be given a book.
"There's just something priceless about having your own book in your hands."
Erickson said MARC believes that it's important to promote literature and literacy in the community.
"We just really want to get books in the hands of our youth. It's just a powerful thing," she said. "Today, with so much digital video games and everything like that, we just want to stress how important reading is and reading to your child."
Principal Linda Ludwig said she thinks reading is very important and the best gift to give anyone is the gift of reading.
"I'm just so proud of our students and parents for helping out and collecting so many books for us to donate," Ludwig said.
Ludwig said she and Erickson came up with an action plan to promote this collection and that announcements every day reminded students to bring books in for the drive.
"I hope next year we can do even better," Ludwig said.
The Gift of Reading project began in 1988. Contributions from Marquette and Alger counties have placed more than 20,000 new books into the hands of many area children who otherwise would not have an opportunity to own a new book.
"It's been an honor to be a part of it," Ludwig said.
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-486-4401.