• Book Program Gives
    A Boost To Belle Morris 

    Posted by Josh Flory on 5/21/2019
    Students walking into Gibbs Middle School on the first day of school.
    Belle Morris Elementary students read in the library on May 20, 2019

    A group of Belle Morris Elementary students got an assist with their summer reading on Monday.

    Earlier this school year, the Great Schools Partnership provided a $10,500 grant to educators at Belle Morris. That funding allowed 60 students to pick out $125 worth of books, which they received at a celebration on Monday.

    The idea came from 4th-grade teacher Olivia Cates, and was based on research that found children with access to books were less likely to see academic declines over the summer.

    Cates said another key to the program is that students were able to choose their books, from a list of nearly 340 titles. “Choice is motivating,” the teacher said. “Everybody loves to have a choice, so they’re more likely to want to read them if they have choice and ownership.”

    On Monday, students who came to pick up their books were greeted with a confetti cannon and encouraging words from KCS Superintendent Bob Thomas, who urged them to spend part of their summer vacation reading.

    Besides taking home books, participating students will have the chance to meet four times during the summer for book-themed events, including activities related to STEM learning, the arts and the Knoxville Zoo.

    Library media specialist Louanne Nicely curated the list of books that students could choose from, and said popular choices for younger students include Caldecott Medal winners, the “Fly Guy” series and David Shannon’s “No, David!”

    The most popular choice for 1st- and 2nd-graders may be the Elephant and Piggie series, which was written by Mo Willems, an author and illustrator who is also known for books such as “Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus!”

    “They really love Mo Willems,” Nicely said of her students. “He’s like a big superstar.”