Librarian's email about a book fair goes viral

Librarian's email about a book fair goes viral

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Karen Meadows is in her second year as librarian at E.B. Williams Stoner Hill Elementary school.

"We want to build a culture of reading," said Meadows. "We want to show them how important reading is."

With the school year winding down, Stoner Hill's annual book fair is the last opportunity for many students to get their hands on reading material for the summer.

"When school lets out for the summer, students can't access our library," explained Meadows.

Meadows says students are always excited for the book fair, and while there's always excitement, there's not always opportunity.

Meadows emailed a letter to three civic organizations hoping to raise money for the school's upcoming book fair.

The letter reads in part:


My name is Karen Meadows and I am the Librarian at E.B. Williams Stoner Hill Elementary. I have a book fair coming up and am grabbing at straws trying to get more books into the hands of my students for the summer. The vast majority of my students never bring more than $5, sadly sometimes the little ones bring change they find thinking it will buy them a book. I wanted to know if any of you would be interested in contributing money, time (setting up and decorating takes some time!), decorations, etc. or even sharing with others the need we have here. Even if it's a suggestion!

I plan to stay open late one evening so some of the local high school students can come purchase books for my students from their wish lists. Kind of like an Angel Tree? I am also thinking about having a "Read In" (the theme is Feeling Groovy: Peace, Love, Books") for families to bring their children to hear guest readers and to reinforce the importance of reading to/with their children.

I only have about 260 students so any monetary donation would purchase several books. I have worked with Scholastic to tailor my fair to primarily have books $5 and under. 

My fair will be delivered on the 19th and I should have it set up by the 21st. It will be here thru Friday, May 6th, which is our Field Day...I overheard some of my students last year on Field Day begging their parents to let them go to the Book Fair only to be told no. My students want to read and LOVE books but it just not a priority with most of their families. 

Any contributions/suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated. If you don't think you can help I totally understand, this is a busy time of year for all of us! My direct number in the library is 603-7033 and my cell is (318)471-1984.

Thanks for reading this!

The response from this letter?

"It just literally went viral," said Meadows. "I mean I've heard that lots, but I've never experienced it."

What started as just 3 simple emails spread like wildfire on social media.

"I have had a lady as far as Ft. Worth, Texas offering donations. And these are all total strangers," said Meadows.

It even reached Government Plaza in Shreveport.

Shreveport City councilman, Jerry Bowman, shared Meadow's message on Facebook and hopes this is only the start of a trend.

"I was like 'wow' that sounds like a great idea," said Bowman. "I picked up two checks on my way here as a matter of fact so and really they're giving more than I thought they would and I really do appreciate it and I'm sure Karen and the kids will appreciate that too," he said.

Bowman says he simply wanted to bridge the gap and help get kids reading material, especially if they won't have access to books during the summer time.

Last year's book fair at Stoner Hill Elementary made just $300.

Because of Meadows' message, the school has received more than $900 in donations.

"It definitely touches my heart," said Meadows. "I'm already to the point where I'm going to be able to make sure at least every one of our students is able to purchase at least one book to have for this summer."

Meadows says the goal is to create a passion for reading among her students.

Stoner Hill Elementary has more than 8,000 books in their school library as well as Nook tablets which are electronic readers/media players.

"We want kids to know reading isn't something you do from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. five days a week," said Meadows. "We want you to learn to do this for the rest of your life and be life-long readers."

"If there's a school in your community, touch base with them, find out if they're having a book far, are their students in need?," said Meadows.

The E.B. Williams Stoner Hill elementary school book fair begins on Friday April, 29 and runs until Friday, May 6.

If you'd like to donate, make checks payable to E.B. Williams Stoner Hill Elementary School.

E.B. Willaims Stoner Hill Elementary Laboratory Professional Developmental School
2127 C.E. Galloway Blvd.
Shreveport, LA 71104

Volunteers are also needed for the book fair. To volunteer please call the school at 318-222-5317 and ask for Principal Michelle Franklin or librarian Karen Meadows.

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