Realtors are familiar with handing new home owners a shiny set of keys, but on Wednesday a group of agents from Turlock’s Aspire Home Real Estate, Inc. visited Julien Elementary School to hand out not keys, but books to unlock knowledge to four lucky kindergarten classrooms.
Aspire owner Scott Snyder said he and his wife first created the book giveaway program, Home2Read, in 2003, hoping it would encourage students to read at home with their parents, siblings or other family members. Students receive three books in the fall, and are then presented with one more in the spring, at the time of kindergarten “graduation.”
This is the seventh year that Snyder has operated the Home2Read program, and fourth year for the program since it picked back up under Aspire in 2014. To date, Home2Read has given away over 6,000 books, he said, and approximately $1,00 per school is spent on book purchased from Creative Teaching Press.
“We had a lot of fun with our kids when they were first learning to read, and kids really need age-appropriate books to keep at home,” said Snyder. “We felt like in addition to having the books, teachers do so much, so we need parents to understand that key role of supporting their kids.”
Snyder, along with Aspire realtors Bryan Tribble, Lorraine Serpa and Junko Broadwater, hand delivered the first of three books, “I See Shapes,” to four kindergarten classrooms Wednesday morning, much to the delight of the children’s teachers. The second and third books will be given in the following weeks by their teachers, and are titled “I Can Read” and “Cat and Dog: All Through the Week.”
“It’s really nice. There are a lot of families who have plenty of books at home, but there are some who don’t,” said teacher Mindy Barnes. “It’s great that the kids have these treasures to take home and keep.”
Kindergarten classrooms at Cunningham, Medeiros and Crowell elementary schools received books from the Home2Read program as well. Including Julien, there were 18 classes in total which received approximately 1,600 books, said Snyder.
“We’re hoping to add one new school each year,” he said, adding that at the program’s inception, Home2Read provided books for just one school. “The heart of the program is to help kids have books they’re excited and encouraged to read.”
Julien principal Angele Freeman believes the Home2Read program shows students that reading is important no matter what profession they choose someday.
“I think it’s important that our students realize the importance of reading, and not just through the people who are educators,” she said. “There are people coming here, giving them books who don’t work in education, so I think it’s important to see that connection.”
A significant focus for Julien students this year is improving their reading skills, Freeman added, making the Home2Read program a valuable asset.
“This is such a good foundation for them to build in kindergarten,” she said.
Students are encouraged to read their three “fall” books at home throughout the year, and in the spring, Snyder and the Home2Read team will return to the schools to gift the children their fourth and final book, titled “I Am Special.”
“When they come back in the spring and the kids get their final book, it’s like an accomplishment,” said Freeman.