Piles of books line the tables at Hawthorne Elementary School. Each one is designed to encourage kids to spend their summer in a story.
"Books that are very engaging for kids, that they're excited to read. That was the whole purpose of them, is so that they would have a way to escape and have an adventure for the summer," said Hawthorne teacher, Jessi Moeller.
Jessi Moeller is a teacher at Hawthorne, and decided to apply for a huge grant this year. The Dav Pilkey Summer Reading Educator Contest
is giving away free books to one school in each state. Hawthorne was the lucky winner for South Dakota, receiving 500 Scholastic books.
"Every student will receive a book and then our students that are a part of the summer school program will receive an additional book," said Moeller.
"It was hard to pick a book but I picked Big Hero 6 since it was the bestest one and I just saw the movie of it," said student, Deondre Brown.
First grader, Deondre Brown, says reading helps him in school.
"Because every time you get smarter and smarter if you read harder books," said Brown.
According to Scholastic, 6 in 10 kids say they enjoy reading books over the summer. Moeller believes even though many of the kids in the Hawthorne neighborhood don't have access to books of their own, they'll still be engaged in learning thanks to this free gift.
"The excitement of a book that they can keep. They don't have to return. That's something they don't have to check out either," said Moeller.
More than 6,000 educators applied for the grant. Moeller says she will definitely apply again next year.
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Every parent and teacher dreads the "brain drain" that comes around for students each summer. This year, one elementary school is fighting the regression by using a national grant to get books into the homes of students.