Books distributed at Apache Elementary School

Noel Lyn Smith
Shande Arthur, second from left, chooses a book Tuesday during a giveaway at Apache Elementary School in Farmington.

FARMINGTON – Apache Elementary School students' faces brightened as they browsed a selection of free books on Tuesday.

The books were provided by the Rio Del Sol Kiwanis Club, which purchased 1,000 books from Scholastic with money from a fundraiser in September and October.

Trenae Toledo, 10, selected the young adult novel, “Someone Named Eva,” and “Help! We Have Strange Powers,” which are part of the "Goosebumps HorrorLand" book series.

“I’m planning to read them and take them home,” the fourth-grader said, then added that she initially did not like reading but her interest changed after reading with her mom each day.

Now that Toledo has developed a love for reading, she devotes as much time as possible to books, she said.

Books for fifth-graders are displayed on a table Tuesday for students at Apache Elementary School in Farmington.

Helping students develop their reading skills and providing them with books to call their own is the focus of a project by Kiwanis.

Apache Elementary serves kindergarten to fifth-grade students and is one of eight Title I elementary schools in the Farmington Municipal School District. The U.S. Department of Education defines a Title I school as having a high number or high percentage of children from low-income families. The department provides supplemental funding to Title I schools to meet state standards and educational goals.

Kiwanis president Bob Lehmer said approximately 250 tickets were sold that provided a free lunch or dinner at Outback Steakhouse in Farmington as part of the fundraiser. The organization raised approximately $5,200 and received a $2,200 donation from the San Juan Regional Medical Center for the project.

In addition to the books, Kiwanis presented a check for $2,921.16 for the school's library fund.

Throughout the morning, students walked into reading specialist Sandra Fusco’s classroom, then browsed the available titles before making a selection.

Books were sorted by grade level and displayed on tables. If students had questions about the books, Kiwanis members helped with answers.

“This is such an honor and blessing for our children,” Fusco said.

Fusco said the books were appropriate for students from kindergarten to fifth grade and a mixture of fiction and nonfiction.

Among the popular titles were a “Barbie Story Collection,” “Buzz Boy and Fly Guy," “SpongeBob Soccer Star" and "Zeus: King of the Gods."

Alyssa Begay, second from right, quickly grabs a book about Taylor Swift Tuesday during a giveaway at Apache Elementary School in Farmington.

“Reading is key to their whole life,” Fusco said.

One of the books that fifth-grader Ashton Sullins selected was “Forces of Nature," which had photographs of lightning, tornadoes and thunderstorms on its cover. Sullins, 10, said he picked the book because it would help him learn about the weather. He also selected “Leo the Snow Leopard” because, “I like animals and I want to learn about them.”

Fifth-grader Audree Clark said her book "Attack of the Vampire Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales" looked interesting.

“I love peace and quiet and reading,” Clark, 11, said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-546-4636.