Lifestyle

Volunteers give the gift of reading at Mark Twain Elementary

A volunteer helps Andrew Shans pick out at book during the Day of Caring at Mark Twain Elementary. Books for all kindergarten through second grade students were donated by the Page Ahead program. - Kyra Low/The Mirror
A volunteer helps Andrew Shans pick out at book during the Day of Caring at Mark Twain Elementary. Books for all kindergarten through second grade students were donated by the Page Ahead program.
— image credit: Kyra Low/The Mirror

They say caring is sharing, and at Mark Twain Elementary School's Day of Caring, Page Ahead shared the gift of reading.

Dozens of volunteers showed up for the Sept. 11 event, which included each student in kindergarten through second grade picking out a book of their own.

Page Ahead is a United Way of King County program that collects and buys books for young students. Schools can apply for the program, and each year, Mark Twain Elementary applies. Schools that are approved have three book distribution days a year, where volunteers read to the students from their selection of new books.

"Excitement about reading and books is the biggest predictor of academic success," Page Ahead organizer Shanna Faulkner said. "It also shows someone in the community cares."

Page Ahead is the biggest literacy program in the state. In almost 20 years, the program has given away 1.7 million books in Washington state.

"For some of them, this is the first book they own," Faulkner said.

At Mark Twain, where 80 percent of the student population lives in poverty, the books make a big difference for the kids, principal Doug Rutherford said. The district also has a high Hispanic population (40 percent), so books in both Spanish and English were available for students to pick.

Page Ahead always brings extra books for students to choose from, so every student gets to actually choose a book and not just be given one.

Within a few minutes, the students had chosen their books and were back at their desks, reading and comparing books — their very own books.

Learn more

To learn more about Page Ahead, or to volunteer, visit www.pageahead.org or call (206) 461-0123.

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