To encourage reading over the summer, teachers have donated hundreds of books to needy children at Maplewood Elementary School in Cahokia.
The school received hundreds of books through a partnership between the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the nonprofit organization First Book.
Maplewood teacher Rebecca Crader won the books donated to the school through a contest at the Illinois Federation of Teachers convention held in November near Chicago.
Teachers had a special assembly at the school to share the good news with students.
"I went to a meeting and I won a prize -- a book for every single one of you to take home," Crader told the pre-kindergarten through second-grade students gathered together in the multi-purpose room of the school Friday.
"What do I want you to do with the book?" she then asked the students.
"Read," they yelled in unison.
In all, 305 new, age-appropriate books were provided to the school by Illinois Federation of Teachers and First Book.
Cahokia District 187 school board member Bernadette Anderson read a book titled, "Say What?" to the students during the celebration.
Anderson suggested the children read with friends. "Sometimes when you read it's good to have a buddy so you can learn together," she said.
She encouraged the youngsters to read this summer. "I say that this summer you are going to exercise your brain and your body," Anderson told the students.
Maplewood Principal Vicki White said she appreciates the book donations for the students.
"A lot of our kids might not have a book," she said. "They are putting a book in their hand, which is special."
Cahokia Federation of Teachers President Leslie Harder said, "home libraries reinforce the importance of reading every day, which we know is essential for their future success."
For more information on the First Book program, visit http://www.FirstBook.org.
Cahokia Federation of Teachers Local 1272 represents more than 400 union members of the Cahokia District 187. The Illinois Federation of Teachers represent 103,000 educators.