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Edgemont book swap gives students edge in reading

Feb 01, 2018 03:15PM ● Published by Julie Slama

Edgemont students look over books as part of the school’s annual book swap. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

While other school children may have been frosting sugar cookies or making graham cracker gingerbread houses as part of their class parties, Edgemont Elementary students instead were swapping books.

In the school’s annual book swap, students bring in gently used books they wish to donate, and after the PTA volunteers organize them by reading levels, they select a book or two — right before the winter holiday break.

“I love that we do this in lieu of parties,” Principal Cathy Schino said. “The kids get so excited about the books. We have some kids who pick out books for their siblings or will read the books to them.”

That’s what student London Grunander, who likes mystery books, was looking to select — some picture books for younger siblings. Classmate Cambria Wilkins had a hard time choosing which books she wanted to take home. Her favorite book is “Appleblossom the Possum” by Holly Goldberg Sloan. 

Sixth-grade teacher and PTA president Katherine Wojnowski said it’s a nice holiday tradition.

“We go through books each year at home so the kids can pick books to give to the book swap and at the same time, they can pick out special ones to give to their siblings or have time where they can just read the book of their choice. They’re usually so excited about the books they choose,” she said.

Schino said the book swap also supports the school’s comprehension strategies.

“It supports what we’re doing and gets books in the hands of kids,” she said.

Throughout the school, teachers have reading strategies posted creatively on bulletin boards in their classrooms. In one room, the teacher has Schema the Spider intertwining strategies of inferring, questioning, importance, visualizing and summarizing and synthesizing the reading.

“We encourage students to make connections to the reading and by doing so, their comprehension increases,” Schino said.

Students throughout the school are participating in a 40-book challenge this year where second- through fifth-graders will record the number of books they read at their reading level and kindergartners and first-graders can include those they listen to in their challenge.

“The books can be across genres the teachers have identified, as we believe students will read more with the power of choice,” she said, adding that she also is participating in the challenge.

Student Sagan Hennefer said there are “always books we want” at the book swap, while classmate Hazel Boyce, who likes the Pinkalicious series, added, “There are all sorts of books we can get here and read and if our favorites aren’t here, the library has a lot.”

Fourth-grade teacher Lori Salter, who donates 50 to 100 books to the book swap annually, says teachers generally acquire a book collection.

“It’s a good way to share our books — even if students don’t bring one, they still get to choose one,” she said. “They look forward to the book swap. It’s just fun. I tell my students, ‘every day you eat, you need to read.’”

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