Belinder Elementary children leave traces in the school library

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Evie Joblin, Parker Falley and Isla Roberson show off their book club picks at Belinder Elementary.

Courtesy photo

How often are you lucky enough to give and receive a gift on your birthday? Each year, dozens of Belinder Elementary students leave their mark in the school library through the Birthday Book Club.

Its structure is simple. Parents donate $ 15 to the school library through the PTA. In the correct birthday month, the child chooses a book from the club cart. His name is inscribed on an ex-libris inside the book.

The birthday child can then view the book for longer than normal, and when the book returns, it’s part of the regular library collection that anyone can use.

School librarian Wendy Oviatt said students were delighted last year to find a book with the name of a teacher from when their teacher was a student in Belinder, which is in Prairie Village.

Oviatt chooses a range of books to put on the cart, from classics to popular series.

“I kind of listen to topics that are of interest to children that we may not have in the library, just to add depth to the collection at the same time as I meet some of their needs,” said said Oviatt.

Fiction, non-fiction, picture books, chapter books – they’re all there.

“They are usually very enthusiastic about choosing their own book. Some of them are very careful going through each book cover and spend a lot of time looking for the right one, ”Oviatt said.

She is not sure how many birthday books are in the library at this point, and the program predates her time in school.

Having the ability to add so many books each year thanks to the club makes a significant difference in what the library has to offer.

“It really helps. (With) our budget, that almost doubles what I get from the district, ”Oviatt said.

For summer birthdays, Oviatt relies on the child’s half-birthday to donate the club. Every time they participate, the children have fun.

“It gives reading flair. It creates that support for the reading program and lets kids know that reading is also a great thing to celebrate, ”Oviatt said.

Not everyone chooses or can participate. This year, the parents of 137 of the approximately 480 students in Belinder have registered. A few parents donated enough for 12 more students to participate whose parents may not have the money available.

The club is a partnership with the PTA, but with the pandemic, parent volunteers cannot come into the building to help.

Carrie Kruse has been the chair of the PTA committee for three years. She has three daughters in school, in kindergarten, fourth and sixth years. Before the pandemic, she took the cart out with the children every month.

“When I was able to walk into the school and bring the book cart into the dining room, the kids are so excited when they see the book cart arrive,” Kruse said. “… To see children get excited about a book is quite wonderful. It’s just a special way to honor their birthdays and expand our library collection, as well as foster the love of reading, of course.

Whenever her children consult books in the school library, they always check which name could be in the foreground.

“Sometimes it’s a friend or neighbor, current or past students. It’s a fun way to remember alumni and promote that sense of community, ”she said.

Now, Oviatt has to do all the practical parts, but Kruse still keeps track of all the donations and who chooses the books each month. During the 2019-2020 school year, there were 167 regular book club participants, as well as 24 additional books donated for other children.

Oviatt said she knows other schools in the district have similar clubs, but she doesn’t know how many.


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