Pop quiz: Where can you find teachers, kids, and a collection of books that includes everything from Make Way for Ducklings to Maniac Magee to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?
The answer: At one of Pleasant Plains Elementary School’s summer book giveaways.
“We just want to put resources in kids’ hands,” says reading specialist Jaclyn Silverthorne at the most recent giveaway, which took place at Acorn Circle last week. The event involved Pleasant Plains teachers handing out books and learning materials to kids, with the goal of motivating them to keep reading over summer break.
“There are four locations, chosen strategically based on where the majority of Pleasant Plains kids live,” Silverthorne says. “This is our second time doing this, and when we did it the first time, we had a really good turnout at all four locations.”
Kids of all age groups showed up periodically to the event, picking out books and saying hi to teachers they hadn’t seen since the end of the school year. Some older kids and parents even showed up to grab books for their younger siblings and children. “We don’t turn anyone away,” Silverthorne says.
The books are categorized into five different reading levels—K-2, grades 3-4, 5-6, Middle/High School, and Adult—so that kids of all ages can easily find what they want. But the summer giveaways don’t stop at books; they also include toys, including jump ropes, math games, counting activities and stuffed animals. And the best part? It’s all free.
As a Title I school, Pleasant Plains “[does its best] to create partnerships,” including with Municipal Employees Credit Union of Baltimore (MECU). The books are courtesy of MECU, which collected about 300 of them total to donate to what Silverthorne has dubbed “the Panther Express.”
“We know the summer slide is real,” Silverthorne says. “We are going to hopefully continue this into the foreseeable future…And hopefully [the students] will come to start looking forward to it.”