By Jessica Creagan
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Hundreds of families with kindergarteners will be reading a new version of the classic "Three Little Pigs" tale before bedtime, thanks to a donation from a local business through The Education Foundation of Indian River County.
MidFlorida Credit Union partnered with the nonprofit education organization to donate 1,000 books to Indian River County schoolchildren in kindergarten last week, and each classroom held a special story time to introduce the gift, said Education Foundation representatives.
Lyndee Dutrow, bank manager of the Sebastian MidFlorida Credit Union branch, read "The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf" by Mark Teague to six kindergarten classes at Fellsmere Elementary on Dec. 4, during the bank's Gift of Reading week.
"I really enjoy reading to the children," Ms. Dutrow said.
During the first reading of the day, more than two dozen students sat quietly on a rug as the pages began to turn and while Ms. Dutrow read each line of text. Then, a curious thing happened.
"While they were looking at the pictures, the children kept noticing things that I had never seen, and I've read the book more than seven times," Ms. Dutrow said with a laugh.
This year is the eighth year of the Gift of Reading program and the credit union will distribute up to 14,000 books in seven counties, a press release said.
At Fellsmere Elementary alone, the credit union donated 110 books.
Nine other elementary schools in the district also received visits from MidFlorida Credit Union representatives and a stack of books for each kindergartener.
Patricia Shaw, Fellsmere Elementary School reading coach, said having an organization come to read and donate books to every single child is quite rare.
"It is very special," Ms. Shaw said.
The school is trying to build partnerships with businesses and other organizations and having volunteer readers is one of the ways an organization can become involved.
"We've had an officer from the police department come and read several times," Ms. Shaw said.
Reading is crucial to a child's academic success and therefore something the school works hard to develop in students, she said.
Reading is a skill that must continually be developed in young students and having a new book to take home during the Christmas break is a good incentive for a family to have some quality reading time outside of a school assignment.
"This was the perfect time for it," Ms. Shaw said.
For more information about The Education Foundation of Indian River County, visit www.edfoundationirc.org.