Book swap program opens doors to reading.

September 29, 2022

Book swap program opens doors to reading.

Pirate News is a presentation of Hart Public Schools in partnership with Oceana County Press.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HART — A school’s book swap partnership with a local insurance agency has opened doors to reading — locker doors, that is. Most of the books are stored in lockers that weren’t being used before.

Hart’s Spitler Elementary School started the book swap program in 2017, and the Farm Bureau Insurance office in Hart donates $900 to the program annually to purchase more books.

“We’re always looking for ways to partner with the local community,” said Farm Bureau Agent Kaleb Klotz, a Hart High School 2002 alumnus.

“We found out that Spitler didn’t have a library,” said Klotz. “They just have Hart Public Library that they go down to once in a while. We wanted to help make a way possible for kids to get their hands on new books on a weekly basis even though they didn’t have a chance to walk into a library.”

The elementary school had a library at one time, but it was eliminated during a renovation and addition project several years ago to create more classroom space to accommodate its growing enrollment.

Spitler Elementary Title I Teacher and Literacy Coach Michelle Hansen came up with the idea. “Michelle had thought it up, and we thought it was a great idea,” said Klotz.

“Kids go in at the beginning of the year and get a new book, and they can either take a book from home or the book that they received and swap it out for a new book. The kids are swapping out their books throughout the year.”

Fellow Title I instructor Bekki Nicholson inherited the program from Hansen last school year and is now running it. “The kids would come in and read with her,” Nicholson said of the program’s founder. “She had a little shelf of books in her office. It just started with that.”

Now, the program has grown into an inventory of 1,000 books for third and fourth graders and a 1,000 more books for second grade students. “I have another 500 in back stock,” said Nicholson. Books for the third and fourth grades are stored in 14 lockers, and Nicholson brings a cart of books to the second graders.

Students are allowed to swap up to five books each week.

“The fact that they can keep it, and they can get something new” is what appeals to the children, she said. Nicholson said she places an order for new books every fall and usually orders another batch in January.

“We contribute to a lot of school programs,” said Klotz of the Farm Bureau office. “I’m happy to be able to let people see the benefits of doing their business locally.

“We think it’s important for our children to have every opportunity to have access to books.” 

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