Leading reader feeds need for books
MONTICELLO — Washington Elementary students are required to read at least 20 minutes outside of class time every day — seven days a week. But that's no sweat for fourth-grader Sophie Happ, who spends at least four times that amount curled up with a good book as part of her daily routine.
So it's not surprising that it broke her heart to find out some kids don't have shelves bulging with books in their homes. It inspired her to collect books at the district's three elementary schools and to donate them to A Small Hand Piatt County Infant Needs and Diaper Pantry, and Cunningham Children's Home.
Sophie came up with the idea, dubbed "Feed the Need to Read," after she and her mom Tina donated items to A Small Hand.
"They were talking about kids not having all the stuff we have, so I wanted to start a book drive to collect books for them," Sophie said.
Washington Elementary Principal Nancy Rosenbery said the fourth-grader approached her about a month ago about the effort. After getting approval, Sophie, 10, decorated the three collection boxes, and even talked to students in all of Washington's classrooms to encourage donations.
"She learned there are homes without books in them, and that tugged at her heart," said Rosenbery, who thought the timing also worked well with the school calendar.
"I told her this would be a great end-of-the-year school project, because teachers are cleaning their classrooms, and everyone's in kind of that purging mode. We have a lot of books sitting on our shelves kids don't read as much any more."
Rosenbery said it is especially rewarding that the project was a student-initiated effort.
"We are a school of readers; we encourage reading, and Sophie is one of our leaders in promoting reading, and I think it's pretty cool she wanted to do this."
Sophie, who enjoys fantasy books like the Harry Potter series the most, hesitated only slightly when asked what her favorite subject was in school.
"Um ... probably reading," she said with a chuckle.