ANTWERP — With summer break just around the corner, the focus now is on making sure kids foster a love for reading and keep it up when school is out.

Staff at Antwerp Primary School distributed dozens of books Thursday from Book Blast, a program of the Books Are Fun company, which aims to give as many books to as many students as possible. Classroom by classroom, packages of books were passed out, and the excitement was palpable.

Students helped fundraise to earn books for their home libraries and received up to 10 books depending on how much money they raised. To fundraise for their libraries, students each sent 10 email or text invitations to friends and family members seeking support. All students received at least one book, even if they didn’t raise any money.

“Filling their home library each year and allowing them to have books at their fingertips all the time even when they’re not at school, that’s the most beautiful part,” said Jessica K. Sines, library media specialist for Antwerp and Theresa primary schools. “My love for reading, I just like to promote that love to them and building their library to be able to enjoy reading because reading is gonna grow with them, they’re gonna get better and they will be able to do that for the rest of their lives.”

This is the school’s first year being involved in the program. Mrs. Sines said her goal is to share it with the other libraries in the Indian River Central School District.

Antwerp Primary became involved with the program after Mrs. Sines received a message about it and brought it to administration, thinking it was a great opportunity.

“The biggest goal is to keep kids reading, keeping kids excited about books because we know that reading every day is important to their progress and growth,” Antwerp Primary Principal Elizabeth H. Culbertson said. “Mrs. Sines brought this program to me, and we thought it would be a great way to end the school year and keep them excited about learning — you can see the smiles on their faces as they were doing that. … We’re thankful because now each kid can have a book and enjoy reading, and I hope that they share that excitement with other people too.”

Once all the books had been uncovered, classes transitioned into reading time.

The Books Are Fun company lists certain books intended for each grade level, Mrs. Sines said. Some of the books students received Thursday were ones she had also ordered for the library.

“This is awesome; I would do this every year in a heartbeat,” she said. “I kind of took a leap of faith and wanted to try it because I think it’s really important. It went really well, even being the first year, and it’s gonna get better every year we do it. And the more well-known it becomes, I think parents will trust it a little bit more. I can’t wait to see where it goes.”

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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