Falls Valley Elementary students reading for a cause and they need your help

IDAHO FALLS – Learning how to read is the cornerstone of a child’s education and instilling a lifelong love of reading hinges largely on their accessibility to books.

Falls Valley Elementary in Idaho Falls kicked off a read-a-thon for students earlier this month. Through Dec. 16, students are being asked to read 20 minutes a day. Teachers are helping to make it more engaging by giving them assignments to read in different locations. Some assignments have included reading under a Christmas tree or reading in their pajamas while drinking hot chocolate.

During this process, students are also trying to collect funds from sponsors to expand and improve the school’s selection of library books.

Principal Tina Orme tells EastIdahoNews.com the idea is to help instill in students a love of reading while raising money for a cause. Since starting this initiative, she says students are reading more and one sixth-grader has already read more than one million words.

“We’re really excited about that,” Orme says. “As kids are reading more, hopefully they will be more excited about learning and more engaged in their education, which will benefit them in the future.”

Maintaining an alluring collection of books in the school has been an ongoing struggle for a decade. Though it was revamped in the 1990s, school librarian Jessica Fitzgerald says it’s “limped along since then.”

Many of the students who attend Falls Valley come from low-income households. On average, the books at Falls Valley Elementary date back to 2004.

With a limited budget, efforts are made every year to raise funds for new books. But Fitzgerald says it rarely garners adequate results.

“Most of our funding comes from book fairs, but usually the earnings are a drop in the bucket,” she writes in an email to EastIdahoNews.com. “We often think of canned food drives, but the teachers and staff are trying to give students the education they need so they can go out into the world and not need assistance when they are older.”

Providing books for the school library and teaching a student to love reading is the key to helping them rise above their circumstances, Fitzgerald says, but worn, out of date books make that goal a challenge.

And with the cost of books rising, Orme says that adds another obstacle.

“Because we’re a Title 1 school, we’ve been able to get a grant a couple of times in the last 10 years, which has really helped. But we can only apply for that grant every three our four years. That’s our only funding source,” says Orme.

Administrators decided to launch the read-a-thon fundraiser after a benefactor offered to match up to $3,000 what students are able to collect from parents and community members. Orme is thrilled to see the student’s increased interest and focus on reading. She’s hoping this effort will raise sufficient funds for new books.

Students will be having a reading party on Dec. 16 to celebrate their accomplishments. They’ll wear their pajamas to school and cuddle up with a book in the hall.

Those who would like to contribute or make a donation can stop by the school at 2455 Virlow Street. Donations can also be made through Venmo via @fallsvalleyvipers93.

Our attorneys tell us we need to put this disclaimer in stories involving fundraisers: EastIdahoNews.com does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries.

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