Excited about reading: Animas Elementary students receive free books at Kiwanis event

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Fourth grade student Jade Pocowatchit held a book from the "I Survived" series close to her chest.

The book, geared toward readers in second through seventh grades, is part of a fiction series that blends action and adventure with historical and current events.

Which is perfect for the Animas Elementary School student, who said she likes reading about how the characters escape from dangerous situations, including those involving dinosaurs.

Kindergarten through fifth grade students at Animas Elementary each received two free books on Jan. 17 from the annual program offered by the Rio Del Sol Kiwanis Club.

For her second choice, Pocowatchit picked a book about platform games.

"Because I'm more of a gaming person," she said.

From left foreground, fourth grade students Chelsea Gonzalez Garcia, Hailey Collier and Keyaira Chee browse a selection of books on Jan. 17, 2020 at Animas Elementary School in Farmington.

Kiwanis Director Bob Lehmer said the program provides students access to age- and grade-appropriate books that are purchased from the Scholastic Corporation with money the club raised from ticket sales for dinner at Outback Steakhouse in Farmington.

The organization also receives support for the program from the San Juan Regional Medical Center and Merrion Oil & Gas.

In addition to the books, club members presented a check to school Principal Nicole Murillo.

Murillo stood inside the library and watched as students reacted to the selection of books displayed on tables.

"They're super excited. For many, they don't have brand new books at home. It makes me emotional and happy to see them excited about reading," she said.

A student looks at illustrations in a "Captain Underpants" novel during the Jan. 17 book giveaway by the Rio Del Sol Kiwanis Club at Animas Elementary School in Farmington.

The check will be used to help with field trips, classroom supplies and after-school activities for families, Murillo explained.

Debbie Braff, a Kiwanis member, said this is the fifth year the club has provided free books to elementary school students in Farmington.

Since its start, the organization has held similar distributions at Apache, McCormick, Bluffview and Esperanza elementary schools.

"It's one reason why I joined Kiwanis," Braff said adding that when she was principal at Apache Elementary, her students benefited from various programs offered by the club.

"Thank you," a group of fourth-grade students shouted before leaving with their new books.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at

Support local journalism with a digital subscription to The Daily Times.

Animas Elementary School students check out the books they picked from a book giveaway organized by the Rio Del Sol Kiwanis Club on Jan. 17 in Farmington.
Fourth grade student Ezekiel Martin reads his book during the book giveaway on Jan. 17 at Animas Elementary School in Farmington.