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Rotarians Give Livermore Students the Gift of Reading

May 6, 2022 - Livermore, CA - As part of their 2022 Literacy Project, Livermore Rotarians gave over 1,900 new hardcover books to all third and fourth graders in the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District. Each student was able to select a favorite from among four choices curated by a committee of community members including teachers, administrators and library specialists.

City of Livermore Youth Services Librarian Nathan Brumley joined with Rotarians and educators to plan the 2022 project. According to Brumley, research has shown that students who are fluent readers by the end of third grade are prepared to succeed academically. “Allowing students to choose their own great book gives kids agency, which means they're much more likely to read it, and provides them with something fun and engaging that will keep them coming back for more. Regular reading is so important when developing vocabulary and reading comprehension in 3rd and 4th grade. The book these students brought home could easily become the book that helps them discover a lifelong love of reading," said Brumley.

Giving books to Livermore students has been a tradition for the past 17 years, when Rotarians delivered dictionaries to third graders in their classrooms. Because of the pandemic, students did not receive any books in 2021, so both third and fourth graders received a book this year. The Rotarian Foundation partnered with local bookstore, Towne Center Books, to purchase the hardcover novels at a discount.

“We are thrilled to partner with Towne Center Books to present students with this gift of reading,” said Rotarian Foundation President Philomena Rambo. “Educators, as well as the avid readers among us, know that reading an engaging story will encourage more reading.”

Rotarians from both the Rotary Club of Livermore and the Rotary Club of Livermore Valley were eager to support a love of reading in these younger Livermore residents. Rotarian Carol Gerich, co-chair of the Literacy Project, said, “All the students were smiling as we distributed the books, and some even hugged their books before starting to read. Others were especially excited that their teachers were planning to start book clubs in their classrooms.“

The titles were selected with varied interests in mind, so that each student could choose their favorite type of book. Students were able to choose from Flora and Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo; Treasure Hunters, by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein; The Wild Robot, by Peter Brown; and Willodeen, by Katherine Applegate.

Lawrence Elementary School principal Kristie Starkovich was part of the planning committee and was able to see her students enjoy their new books. “Lawrence Elementary Labradors truly enjoyed the experience of learning about new novels and selecting one to read for their own pleasure. Students have been reading the novels and discussing the content with their friends. Many parents have expressed their appreciation to Rotary and Towne Center Books for providing this amazing opportunity,” said Starkovich.

The Rotarian Foundation of Livermore is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of local residents. Annually, the Foundation awards grants to a variety of other nonprofits as well as educators and individuals making a positive difference in the greater Livermore community. “We especially appreciate the opportunity to serve children,” said Rambo. 

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Sunset students showing off their new books. (Left to right: Gianna Endean, Skye Farquar, Nora Caeton, Robert Herrington, Lucas Lee.)