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50,000 Books --and Counting

Reading: A dozen South-Central schools are the latest beneficiaries of donation program.


Educators crammed a narrow room at McKinley Avenue School in South-Central Los Angeles on Thursday, eager to collect a welcome resource for more than a dozen schools in the area: recreational reading.

"Books, books, books--I love it," said Sylvia Rousseau, a subdistrict superintendent in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Her district is home to 15 elementary schools that shared in the donation of 50,000 books, divided and wrapped in crates, ready for pickup.

The book drive, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Times, is part of a yearlong effort that has so far collected about 570,000 books from members of the public and a school book publisher. The goal is to collect a million books during the year, said Roy Follmuth, Rotary Club president.

Follmuth said this year's book drive is shaping up as the most successful yet in the 3-year-old program.

"We have books galore, and if anyone came in their car [to pick them up], they're in trouble," club spokesman Don Robinson told participating teachers, administrators and school librarians.

Scholastic Inc., publisher of books for elementary students, matched each book donation by the public with a new title from its own catalog.

The drive is part of a program intended to make leisure readers of children in the kindergarten through third-grade level, or by age 9, especially among those whose primary language is not English.

"We have made a big push to set up classroom libraries, to get books into the kids' hands," said subdistrict official Irma Medrano Good.

Teachers and administrators on hand at McKinley School on Thursday came from some of the lowest-ranking schools in state reading tests, Robinson said.

District officials said the schools can certainly use the books.

"The teachers are excited," Medrano said. Most teachers were quick to request specific titles, she added.

Some teachers who have gotten books in the past have broken down and cried, Robinson said.

Schools receiving the books are selected based on test scores and general needs.

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