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Literacy program gives Sandwich students more to read

Children’s Literacy Foundation Executive Director Duncan McDougall reads “Mirette on the High Wire” to students at Sandwich Central School. Erin Plummer. (click for larger version)
May 05, 2010
SANDWICH — The magic of books came directly to Sandwich children in an assembly that showed off the $2,000 worth of new books donated to the town library.

On Monday, Sandwich Central School students returned from vacation to an assembly showing rows of new books purchased through a program with a regional literacy organization.

The Samuel Wentworth Library received $2,000 worth of books through a Children's Literacy Foundation program.

Books include fiction and nonfiction for ages ranging from young children to young adults, all ordered by a local librarian and purchased through the CLiF program.

"We want to speak to all of the kids in there and share our love of reading and writing," said CLiF Executive Director Duncan McDougall.

CLiF participates in reading programs for two groups of children; children with a high risk of low literacy and children in rural communities, such as Sandwich.

Every year, CLiF goes to around 200 communities in New Hampshire and Vermont, operates 16 programs, and has served around 16,000 children.

The foundation operates entirely on donations and private contributions and does not receive any money from any government or municipality.

The Wentworth Library received a CLiF grant five years ago and was eligible to receive one this year, so Youth Librarian Bethany Powers applied.

Money for the donation to Sandwich was provided by the Saul O Sidore Memorial Foundation.

The donation was made as part of an assembly in the Sandwich Central School gym. Students filed in wearing hats like that of the Cat in the Hat with their names written on them.

McDougall told students about how they could go on journeys by reading books. He said he was in Guatemala 12 days ago with a scientist studying tarantulas, an experience he took just by reading "The Tarantula Scientist" by Sy Montgomery and Nic Hunter. He also told students about how he used to read in a tree.

"I traveled to the moon in that tree, I built the pyramids in that tree, I traveled lots of different places in my imagination," McDougall said.

McDougall showed some of the books the library received, including "Winter Woes" with its author Marty Kelley in attendance at the assembly.

The New Boston-based Kelley visits around 60 schools a year in between working on his books.

"I like seeing the kids get really excited about reading," Kelley said. "I love watching the kids get totally sucked into a story."

McDougall said these books could further influence children to write themselves.

"Someday I will have the honor of giving away some books you guys have written," McDougall said.

Kelley said meeting the author in real life can also have an influence.

"I think it gives them a chance to see writers and illustrators are real people and they can do it," Kelley said.

McDougall capped off his presentation by reading the book "Mirette on the High Wire" by Emily Arnold McCully.

After the presentation, the books were set up on different tables. Students could look through them and check out which ones they wanted, with staff and volunteers from the Wentworth Library on hand to check out books.

SCS Principal John Hansen said the students' enthusiasm for the books was clear the moment they walked in the room.

"What I love about this is seeing the reactions of the children," Hansen said. "They literally gasp and get excited when they see them. Nothing can warm the heart of a teacher or principal more."

Fourth grader Ian St. Cyr checked out Dr. Seuss' "Horton Hatches the Egg."

"I think it would be good for my reading buddy," St. Cyr said. "She's in kindergarten."

Fellow fourth grader Brandon White, who checked out "Hurricane Hunters! Riders on the Storm" by Chris L. Demarest, was impressed by the donation.

"I think it was a generous decision to donate $2,000 worth of books to us," White said. "I think it was the right decision to do. We should all give them a big thanks."

For more information on CLiF or to make a donation, visit www.clifonline.org or write to Children's Literacy Foundation, P.O. Box 993, Hanover, NH 03755.

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