Donated books to keep BEA students reading over the summer

Bald Eagle Area elementary schools are keeping their students’ noses in books — thanks to a gift last month from a local literacy program.

The Mid-State Literacy Council, a State College-based nonprofit, collected more than 3,000 books for local schools as part of the group’s annual summer reading program. Many were donated to Howard, Mountaintop Area, Port Matilda and a Wingate elementary schools.

“The kids are ecstatic to receive the books,” literacy council Executive Director Amy Wilson said in an email. “They feel cared for. We are helping them create their own ‘forever library’ — one that can be handed down to their own children.”

A report from Mid-State Literacy Council said the agency collected gently used books from December through April, and was supported by Barnes & Noble, the Center for Performing Arts at Penn State and Grace Lutheran Church. Wilson emphasized the importance of the program by explaining that students can lose a lot of what they learn over the summer if a family doesn’t have the extra resources to purchase their own books.

Local librarians have already seen the program’s impact firsthand.

“Students love telling us about their libraries at home and how they read the books over and over,” Howard Elementary School librarian and media instructor Sharon Bittel said. “Many of our students do not have access to a school or public library in the summer. The ‘forever books’ ... let them know people care about them and their reading progress.”

Many books included topics on science and nature, which Wilson said have been shown to expand vocabulary and increase knowledge.

The Mid-State Literacy Council, which also promotes literacy among adults, hopes to collect more books in the future and expand its services to include more schools.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo