Volunteer Ramona Dickson reads to Christopher Swainston and Austin Frederickson during last month’s Reading is FUNdamental day at Evergreen Elementary School. Photo by Hugh McMillan, KP News

Last month’s “Reading is FUNdamental” (RIF) day at Evergreen Elementary School was dubbed “Rope a Good Book.”

Every RIF is a daylong event in the Evergreen library where, one at a time, classes file through the door filled with anticipation. They receive a free book of their age-appropriate choice to keep as their own.

Several parents and other volunteers were on hand to handle the logistics of the operation, but most importantly to sit with youngsters and read with them and acquired book treasures.

The library was decorated to exude the aura of the Wild West.

“RIF means lots of decorations and you get a book for free,” said first-grader Becky Lynn King. Classmate Nick Bacon said the library looked really good, and Rylee Coggin said RIF means “having fun and picking out books.”

New Evergreen Principal Hugh Maxwell, dressed in Western garb, didn’t know what to expect from his first RIF day at Evergreen, especially one with a cowboy theme, he said.

“I saw kids, parents, volunteers and staff well into the theme making it a very special day. What impressed me most was the time and hard work parents, volunteers and staff put into making this a great day for the kids. The importance of reading was clear when you saw volunteer readers working with students.

“And how often do you get to be called ‘marshal’ all day while kids rope books to keep as their own? Yee-haw, partner,” Maxwell said with a grin.

What does RIF really stand for?

To kindergartener Eamon Glasslock, “RIF means we got to show cowboy spirit and get a book.”

Maddie Charpentier said, “We don’t have to bring it back and we got to put our name in it.”

Garynne Glasslock said RIF is set up to allow her “to read more often and to learn more about reading.”

Bobby Mack-Ward feels RIF means reading is fun. “When you get interested in the book, you can think what will happen,” he said.

Third graders Ally Frederickson, Emma Lindhartsen and William Allen, respectively, felt RIF meant, “reading is fun, cool and awesome because I love reading.”

“It is a privilege for kids who might not be able to afford new books to get a book and be able to read more at home,” said Sierra Burgess, a fourth-grader.

Evergreen’s RIF program has long been supported financially, materially, morally and with the warm bodies of reading mentors at each RIF day by members of the Key Peninsula Veterans.