Ross Allen and Curtis Staples carefully browse the selection of RIF books on the tables in the library of Evergreen Elementary School in late October. Parent and community member David Mikelson, in the background, waits to read with a student. The students are treated to RIF, a program that offers a free book to each student, three times a year. This program is made possible in part by a donation from the Key Peninsula Veterans Institute, and the Angel Guild. There is a federal grant for the program, but it doesn’t cover all of the costs, said Robin Roe, the school’s librarian. Photo by Mindi Larose

Every child is encouraged to read, and some enjoy it and others not so much. But every child in every class at Evergreen Elementary School was excited to choose a book during the Reading Is Fun program in October.

The school receives a federal grant to fund the program, but it doesn’t fully fund it, said school librarian Robin Roe. The Key Peninsula Veterans Institute donates a matching fund to make the program possible, along with donations from the Angel Guild, a she said.

“Every student in the building will get three books each year,” she said. “Each class has 20 minutes to select books.”

Community members and parents participate in the exciting day as well, by reading the chosen book with the child.

Chawndra Hicks first chose an easy book, but was redirected by her teacher to find something more challenging. She hesitated at first, but chose a book of poetry that she was happy with.

“I love poetry,” she said, “My Mom has a lot of poetry books, and there’s rhymes in it and I love rhymes. I can read chapter books and I’m only 7.”

Michelle Scherer teaches second grade, and she said the RIF program could spark a child’s interest in reading.

“I think it’s really exciting for them to realize where reading can take them,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for them to choose a new book, which many of them have probably not had the opportunity to do before.”

Each RIF day has a theme at Evergreen, and this one was “Road Trip.” The students were encouraged to wear shirts that were from different parts of the state or country, and each child was given a bookmark made from laminated pieces of old Atlases.

RIF is something they don’t forget. Second grader, Jeff (who didn’t give his last name) said he enjoys all sorts of books, especially adventure stories.

“My other book from RIF was about heroes,” he said.

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