By Brandon HENSLEY
For generations kids have grown up being told that reading is fundamental. Adults, however, have learned for generations the fundamentals of economics, specifically supply and demand.
Enter last week’s Lincoln Elementary School Book Fair. Held from Tuesday to Friday in the school’s auditorium, the fair gave a chance to replenish the library’s supply of books – either old and worn or simply outdated – keeping librarian Jo Van Amburg happy.
“Most of the libraries in the state were funded by an assembly bill that expired a few years ago,” said Van Amburg. “Because of the budget [problems] it was not reauthorized and no one brought forth a new bill, so all of us are on our own and scrambling for money to purchase new books.”
What happens then is Scholastic, one of the world’s largest publishers and distributors of children’s books, comes in and provides all of the books for the week. Any books that aren’t sold the company takes back, and Lincoln gets 20% of the total amount raised, putting it back into the library.
“It’s the only funds that come in for Mrs. Van Amber to be able to purchase new books, to replace those that have been worn and used, and because we choose to get cash from Scholastic she can pick whatever she knows is most popular right now,” said parent and Book Fair Chair Regina Martin. “We have to keep replenishing the library because some books that were appropriate then may not be now.”
Thursday night was Family Night at the fair and those nights usually bring in over $3,000. Despite the economic struggles families may have, “I think parents do not have a problem purchasing books for their children,” Martin said.
Outside the auditorium, the sixth grade class held a bake sale to help fundraise events for their class. Inside, the auditorium was full of books of all kinds of genres for kids to get their hands on: adventure, mystery, World War II books, and yes, the Justin Bieber biography, “My World.”
There were guest readers on the night, with an area for kids to sit down on blankets near the back. The most notable reader that visited was Marissa Lopez Wong, sister of actor Mario Lopez. Wong, who is friends with Martin, was there to read her book she co-wrote with her brother, “Mud Tacos,” a story based on her family and about having adventures in the backyard.
“I think the reason why we wrote the book is to show kids that playing outside and being creative is important,” said Wong. “We’re hoping after reading this book that they will really take that to heart and go outside more and not be inside watching so much TV and playing video games. Hopefully this book will get them excited about that.”
This is Wong’s first foray into book writing. She said reading the book to kids has been enjoyable, although, “Sometimes my brother and I are able to do book fairs together, and he’s so animated and he’s so funny so when he reads I think he gets a better reaction than I do.”
Maybe by watching Wong and others read books, more children will get excited about the world of literature.
“We’re always promoting better readers, more confident readers,” said Van Amburg.
It was a busy, successful week for Lincoln Elementary, and in the end, Van Amburg was impressed and humbled.
“This is a really strong school community here and the parents, even in tough economic times, do what they can to support the school,” she said.