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Program allows pupils to pick books

Posted: Sunday, September 08, 2002

Every day when North Columbia Elementary School Media Specialist Cindy Beatty arrives home, she discovers boxes of books on her front doorstep.


Greenbrier sophomore Lauren Murray (right) gets some help from her younger sister Julie Murray as they label and sort books for the Children's Choice Awards.

Photo by Jim Blaylock

No, it's not Christmas in August. But for the area's schoolchildren, it might as well be.

Last week, more than 2,000 children's books were distributed to five area schools participating in the Children's Choices Project, sponsored by the International Reading Association and the Children's Book Council.

Beatty and Beth Perdergraft, an assistant professor at Augusta State University who teaches reading and early childhood education, were responsible for securing the program for the area and will oversee the project.

The books range from Star Wars, Attack of the Clones by Curtis Saxton, to The Adventures of a Nose, written by Viviane Schwarz and illustrated by Joel Stewart, and everything in between. Sorting and labeling the books has been a task and a treat for the two women and the many volunteers.

"It's kind of fun, we never know what's coming each day," Pendergraft said.

The Adventures of a Nose is one book that immediately caught her attention.

"When I saw this book, I said, 'Of all things,' but it really is funny," she said. "I had to read it out loud to everyone. The kids are going to love it."

That will be for the children to decide.

The 2,700 children's books will be distributed to North Columbia Elementary School and Riverside Elementary School in Columbia County. The pupils will begin reading them Monday and will rank them all by February.

"This is one program where the children are in charge," Beatty said. "They rate the books on how much they like it, a little or a lot."

Pendergraft said rating the books will allow the children to reflect on what they've read, and also to, "know that it's OK not to like a book."

The Children's Choices team from Columbia, Richmond and Burke counties is one of five in the nation selected to participate in Children's Choices. Other teams are from Oregon, Ohio, Texas and Massachusetts.

When the local results are sent in, the Children's Book Council will tabulate the votes from all five teams and compile the results in a list of the top 100 books. All children's book publishers are invited to participate in the program.

The best part about the program, Beatty said, is that the schools get to keep the books.

"That's $47,000 worth of books," she said.

The Children's Choices project encourages children to read and helps teachers, librarians, booksellers and parents find books young children will enjoy.


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