Bethel Book Exchange a success 3 years later

By Bethel Elementary | May 28, 2014
Photo by: Donated BETHEL BOOK EXCHANGE — From left, Lexi Conner and Shakera Colex shop for  new books, while Camden Edwards looks at a book his friend, Eli Ashe, points out.

Three years ago, the staff at Bethel Elementary School had an epiphany inspired by Richard Allington’s research — kids need to choose the books they want to read. The problem was lack of funds to support this grand idea. The solution came in the form of the “Bethel Book Exchange.”

The first book exchange was organized in the spring of 2011. At first, many of the books that came in were outdated. Bethel Elementary was determined to put high-quality, high-interest books into the hands of their students.

Last year, Principal Barker gave each student a new book while trick-or-treating through a new activity called “Book-O-Ween.” Francis Cove United Methodist Church has sponsored students at the school’s book fair; and Bethel’s Exceptional Children department is constantly creating inspiring ways to get kids to love reading and give away books. Title 1 sponsors reading nights in each grade throughout the year where fiction and non-fiction books are often the prizes for attending. As an incentive for students to bring books for the book exchange, students got a free book coupon to order a book of their choice from a book order.

Now, three years later, students are circulating their book gifts through the book exchange. This school-wide effort has taken the book exchange from old outdated books to an “I can’t wait until it’s my turn” opportunity. In the beginning, students each chose two books, and are now able to choose four to five books.

Eight-year old Trenton Mason loves the book exchange.

“I feel overjoyed and always happy when I read,” he said. “I like Geronimo Stilton stories. I feel like I'd like to be in the story.”

“It's fun picking books that you can choose and that you like,” said Samantha Morgan, a second-grade student, during the spring book exchange. “When I read I go on adventures.”

As a result of this hard work and dedication, student reading volume has increased dramatically. The current book exchange has approximately 1800 books valued at close to $8,000.