Shared Success: The Best Holiday Gift: Families, Fun, and Books

By Linda Martin, Media Specialist at Sugar Hill Elementary School in Gainesville, GA

Linda Martin What is the best holiday gift you can give hardworking families? Sugar Hill Elementary School Media Specialist Linda Martin has a simple suggestion: together time.

When Linda first saw the Klutz Build-a-Book® packages that arrived with her Book Fair, she envisioned a weekend event for families at her Gainesville, Ga., school.

"A lot of our families work nights and couldn't attend evening events," Linda said.

Linda – Media Specialist of the Year for her district – promoted the book-building party by making her own book over the in-house broadcast system. She gauged the response to the event by pre-selling books. “When we pre-sold 28 books, we said, ‘Okay, this is going to run,’” Linda recalls.

Saturday morning came, and so did about 150 people – parents, grandparents, toddlers, grade-schoolers, and even some teens.

Among them were a group of third-graders who, accompanied by their first-year teacher, had incorporated the book into their curriculum. “They had drafted their stories ahead of time so they could spend their time on illustrations,” recalls Linda.

“Some books were written entirely in Spanish, and they were lovely,” says Linda, who had drafted a bilingual speaker as a translator. “There was one little kindergarten girl marching around the room clutching her book. The book’s title was The Book of Me,” Linda reflects with palpable delight.

Some of the completed books were set up in a display case to pump up excitement for the Book Fair. “That added a lot more traffic to the display case,” Linda asserts. All told, the school sold 48 kits as a result of the event, which kicked off the school’s Book Fair.

The experience is one Linda hopes to relive as she shares with fellow librarians. “The whole process was opening children up to work with both sides of their brains, their creative sides and analytical sides. It’s so low-tech and so fundamental to who we are as humans. Stories touch our humanity, and this program is so tied in to that,” Linda says.
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