Nearly everyone remembers the thrill of getting new Scholastic books. Whether through book fairs, paper order forms filled out at the kitchen table, or digital order forms viewed online, Scholastic books are a rite of passage for many American students. Kerry-Ann Reeves, a fourth grade teacher at Daniel Webster Elementary School in New Rochelle, Westchester County, was determined to keep that excitement going for her students, despite COVID-19 restrictions.
“Before COVID, I held classroom book raffles a few times a year,” said Reeves explaining that she would give students tickets, display a selection of free books and let them choose materials for themselves when their ticket number was called. Since many of her students are remote learners this year, she came up with a unique way to keep her classroom book giveaways going — hand delivering free books to her students’ homes every few months.
The book deliveries are wildly popular. “I’ll hold up copies of books on Google meets and ask who’s interested in reading them.” Students also share the top two books they want. “I have lots of conversations with kids so I know what they like to read,” she said noting that when kids pick their own books they read more. Avid readers get challenging books and extra deliveries if they finish early. “For the kids who struggle with reading, I give them ones they like and I also add in something different.”
The students treat book delivery days like Christmas morning, said Reeves who delivers three to five books to each of her 18 students. She uses personal funds and classroom book points to purchase giveaway materials. After hearing about her deliveries, Scholastic donated 100 books — Reeves is a teacher advisor for the company.
“The students know my car and they track me on delivery day using Google classroom so they know when I’m coming to their house,” said Reeves. She assigns them work while she’s delivering and instructs them to call her with questions or problems. Book drops take place on Wednesdays, after her morning Zoom sessions, and take about five to six hours. “If students have questions, I just pull over to the side of the road, answer them and get back to delivering books.”
The deliveries have become socially distanced mini reunions, complete with photo ops to add to the classroom collage. “Sometimes the door opens before I even slow down,” Reeves said. “Parents come to the door to say hello and students meet me with pictures and drawings, or leave little notes, they’re just so happy and appreciative.”
Reeves considers the deliveries an important way to stay connected with her students and keep them interested in reading. “I’ve had parents say they’ve never seen their kids so excited to read before, and that makes it so worthwhile,” she said.