Four times during the school year, the Pinewood Elementary art room at Jenison Public Schools turns into a free bookstore where Pinewood students can “shop” for a brand new book for their home library.

Research shows raising a child in a home filled with books positively impacts their future academic growth and job attainment. Having numerous books in the home also helps children when they reach adulthood by building their vocabulary, increasing awareness and comprehension, and expanding their horizons.

Driven by these findings, the Pinewood Elementary Student Council and its leader, fifth-grade teacher Michelle U’Ren, started Student Council Book Giveaways.

“We know that access to high-interest books makes a substantial difference for kids and families,” Pinewood Elementary Principal Rachel Postle-Brown, Ph.D. says. “These fun days help us all share our love of reading and lifelong learning.”

Thanks to generous donations from parents and fundraisers, Pinewood’s Student Council purchases new books of all reading levels and genres from Scholastic and the First Book Network, an award-winning repository of affordable and new books, educational resources, and necessities for Pinewood’s kindergarten – 6th-grade students to bring home and enjoy at any time.

“Students love selecting their book,” Michelle says. “Many begin reading their selection right away before they even leave the store!”

Fifth-grade student Mady says, “It’s so fun to walk into a room full of books and be able to choose one to take home.”

Due to the positive response and continued donations, the Student Council Book Giveaways show no signs of stopping.

“As both a teacher and a parent here at Pinewood, I can see the benefits of the book shopping events both at the professional level and at a more personal level,” Kindergarten teacher Cindy Machiela says.

“When my two children come home with their forever book they have a sparkle in their eye. These books are read THAT night at bedtime and always have a special spot on their bookshelves at home. Instilling this sense of ownership, excitement, and fun to reading has become an integral part of our Pinewood community,” added Cindy.

To help support students over the summer, the Jenison School District provided each student with six to eight books at their grade level to keep and read over the summer.

“A magical thing happens when kids choose a book, take it home, and autograph it. It means they own something they see as valuable - a book,” says Pinewood second-grade teacher Amanda Roper. “These giveaways help deepen the culture and love of reading in these students by making them part of a group - a group of students who love books.”

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