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Northwood Builds Readers and Community

A group of Northwood Elementary School fourth-grade teachers took to social media to rally their connections, aiming to raise money for books for their students. When Amy Sheridan, Denise Healy, Nicole Sickle, and Alyssa Wood posted their idea to Facebook, the response was fast and enthusiastic.

Scholastic Books sends monthly flyers to schools, and each of these flyers advertises one book for $1. Ms. Sheridan did the math, realizing that a $9 donation would allow her to purchase a book for each student in her class to have a book to take home. Within 24 hours, her entire class was covered. In a matter of days, she had raised enough money to purchase a book for 114 students: the entire fourth grade. The project kept growing, and now each Northwood fourth grader will receive one book each month for the entire nine-month school year, which led to the name of the initiative: “That’s What Friends Are For: Northwood Networks Nine Novels.”

Ms. Sheridan kept her Facebook supporters updated as the books began to come in. “The students were so excited to receive their own book to build a home library,” she posted. Each book got a label with the student’s name and the name of the program.

After such an overwhelming show of support, Northwood has been looking for ways to pay it forward. Other grades are now getting involved in their own crowd-funding book projects. After reading about Esther Jackson Elementary School’s summer reading program, the Northwood Networkers reached out to their sister school and offered up their extra books. The students from both schools will Skype with each other during the delivery of the books, which will have personalized labels from the Northwood students to the Esther Jackson students. “My teammates and I are thrilled to see this simple idea blossom into a school-wide activity that is showing the joys associated with reading a great book,” said Ms. Sheridan.

Northwood’s love of literacy is contagious, and the students have brainstormed ways to share reading with other classes. They plan to start grade-wide book clubs, and to have “book buddy” sessions with second graders.

Parents have also been enthusiastic about the program. “Not only is this a great idea but it is such an exhibit of kindness,” one parent wrote, noting that she planned to encourage her son to write a thank-you note to the community.

“We learned that our friends are always there for us,” said Ms. Sheridan. “We heard from people that we had not heard from in years. We were able to reach out through social media, to people who don’t even know our students, and raise money for books.”