Students at Monarch Grove Elementary School hold up some of the new books donated to the library.
Dragons, robots and cats have invaded a local school. Don’t be alarmed, they come in peace and only live on the pages of books.
Volumes of Pleasure Bookshoppe in Los Osos recently donated 20 new books to the Monarch Grove Elementary School Library that serves TK- sixth grade students.
“Children are the most wonderful, infinite resource that we have as people,” said Carroll Leslie, Volumes of Pleasure Bookshoppe owner. “The only thing we can do is to invest in them, so that they will grow and mature and understand their role as a part of this country is to help one another, to take care of the climate. Reading helps them make pictures in their head. They’re so used to television that has assaulted them with images. When reading, they can form pictures in their head, so they are in charge of it, not a box. It is really quite wonderful.”
The idea for the donation program came to life about two years ago when Ellen Perryess, who works at Volumes of Pleasure, wanted to give her husband a book donated in his name to the county library system for a Christmas present.
“We got talking about it and realized it was a great gift for anybody who goes to the bookstore,” said Perryess. “It’s a great Christmas gift or all year round.”
Since each new, hardback book costs about $17 to purchase, Volumes of Pleasure has a program where people can donate $20 and schools will receive the new reading material, which include a bookplate recognizing the donor or someone of their choice. Donors can also select a specific school on the list that the funds will go towards. Any residual money or smaller donations, are held until there is enough to purchase more titles of books.
Leslie and Perryess, plan to expand the program to six more schools in the San Luis Obispo Coastal Unified School District, concentrating on those with a high percentage of students on the free and reduced lunch program. As funds come in, each school will receive the same collection of books, which are based on a list created with the help of the school district.
“We’re just so grateful for Volumes or Pleasure,” said school librarian Alisha Santoianni. “This is the second donation that they’ve made to us just this year, which is fantastic. We now have probably close to 50 or 60 brand new books thanks to them. That is huge — probably close to what I can add to our library each year with my district budget, — they’re basically doubling that.”
The students are likely as happy with the new reading material as Santoianni is.
“A story is like going to a different place and time,” said Sophia, a fifth grader, who is looking forward to reading “Room to Dream” by Kelly Yang. “You can just kind of go somewhere else.”
When asked if she reads every day, Sophia said, “Oh, yes. definitely.”
The books will get their use with students visiting the library every week as part of their studies. Additionally, many frequent the stacks beyond what is scheduled. During this interview, a group of kids came in on their lunch break to check out a few more titles.
“At the bare minimum they get to check out at least one new book depending on their grade level,” Santoianni said. We have upper grades that are checking out three or more books every week and then as you could see, some students were just coming in to switch out books even though it’s not their library time.”
The average monthly circulation at the library is about 2500 books, so new titles are always needed. With more than 350 students in attendance, the choices of reading material needs to be as varied in topic and voice as the kids are themselves.
“I’m constantly evaluating our materials to make sure they’re current and they meet the needs of our population,” Santoianni said. “I love the philosophy of books being windows and mirrors; kids need to see themselves in books and that needs to be mirrored back to them. Books also give them windows into other worlds, other cultures, and other beliefs so they see that there are different people out in the world. I’m constantly looking for books to expand our kids’ horizons and looking for diverse books that will help us all understand each other a little bit better.”
Readers who want to give the gift of a donation to the school book fund for the holidays or any time of the year, are asked to call the store at (805) 528-5565 and pay by credit card or stop in at Volumes of Pleasure located at 1016 Los Osos Valley Rd., Los Osos.