News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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January 12, 2013

50 students get buried in an Avalanche of Books

After-school read-in growing in popularity, teacher says

WEST TERRE HAUTE — Dozens of middle school students found themselves buried in books Friday evening, part of an educational program mixing learning with fun.

Pamela Gasway, librarian and teacher of West Vigo Middle School, said the annual “Avalanche of Books” program was off to a great start by 3 p.m.

“It’s an after-school read-in,” she said, noting 50 students were participating this year, making it the third and largest event of its kind there. “So it keeps growing in popularity, which is what we want.”

In addition to reading, students were treated to hot chocolate, apples and other snacks, amid educational games and later dinner. Poems and art were incorporated into the program as students could bring their characters to life.

“And they get to order $20 worth of books from Scholastic Books,” she said, noting that’s a big deal for the kids.

Lauren Augustus, 12, was reading “Number the Stars,” a story about a young Danish girl who was helping a Jewish friend to hide from Nazis during World War II. The book, she said, was enjoyable, and she’s read similar works in class although the topic differs slightly from her normal interests. “I like magic and dragons and stuff like that.”

Students were sprawled out across the floor on pillows and blankets, feet kicked up against the wall. Olivia Atterson, 14, was reading “Twilight.”

“It’s quiet and you can read, and some of my friends are here so I thought it’d be a good chance to spend time with them,” she said.

Jenny Thomas, director of the Vigo County Education Foundation, said her organization has funded the program since its inception. A 501c3 group, they work to fund projects otherwise undoable for budgetary concerns.

“That’s what we do, raise money to fund programs that teachers request,” she said, marveling that so many kids stayed at school after class to read. “And nobody’s making them.”

Gasway said the school will host the event again in May with an invitation extended to parents to foster family reading time.

“So we can encourage reading for the summer,” she said.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or brian.boyce@tribstar.com.

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