Mid-Michigan teacher fosters love of reading with free book program

OKEMOS, MI. (WILX) - In this edition of Schools Rule, WILX News 10 is highlighting a teacher who is making a big difference in the lives of her students-but she says, she couldn't do it alone.

Amy Dunlap is the Instructional Coach at Michigan Connections Academy. She says she knew she wanted to inspire a love of reading in her students.

To do that, she partnered with area sponsors to send a book home with them every month of the school year.

"It was just really neat to be able to provide them with these materials and help them build their home libraries," said Dunlap.

While Dunlap was teaching her fourth grade class of 52 students, she says she wanted to make sure her students had their own books at home.

"Ii had students at the beginning of the year, who, I always ask, 'What's your favorite and least favorite subjects?' And a lot of kids will say, 'I hate reading,'" Dunlap explained. "By the end of the year those are the kids who are like, 'I'm waiting for my next book.'"

Each month, Scholastic offers a book for $1. So, Dunlap reached out to friends, family, businesses and organizations.

For $8, they could 'sponsor' a student. Each month, Dunlap sent the $1 books home to her students.

"To have them have that fire light inside them to want to keep reading and not to care what book came home...they were just excited to get a free book, they were excited that somebody cared about them," said Dunlap.

Sponsors were able to pass along notes to their students and students returned the favor.

"We all go through things in life that are difficult, and sometimes we don't have an outlet for that and books give us that," said Dunlap.

It's safe to say, one of those sponsors is very near and dear to Dunlap's heart. Her four-year-old son Snyder decided he wanted to make sure other kids have books at home, just like he does.

"It's fun," said Snyder.

Dunlap is now the Literacy Coordinator with Michigan Connections Academy. She wants to expand the free book program to all students once she has a plan in place WILX News 10 will let you know how you can sponsor a student.

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