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Bradford Book Fair a Highlight for Read Across America Celebration

A teacher and student browse the book fair looking for the student's next selection As the beaming child proudly approached the check-out station inside Bradford Elementary’s media center -- four brand-new books in hand -- the cash register caught his eye. 

As Pam Masciotra scanned each book, the tally was relayed to the register. 

“Well, that’s a total of $55,” announced Sandy Alvarez.

A touch of worry now showing on the boy’s face, he timidly asked, “Do we have to pay?”

The answer, of course, was “no,” but Principal Alvarez used the opportunity to explain why.

“There are people out there who care about you,” she said. “They donated the money to buy these books and they’ve never even met you.”

The lesson in the importance of gratitude complete, the boy scurried away, his smile once again in place.

“It’s just incredible to see the surprise on their faces when they come to the register and figure out they don’t have to pay,” said Ms. Masciotra, the school’s Data Assessment Coach and Family Engagement Coordinator.

“Oftentimes,” added Principal Alvarez, “they don’t think beyond four books and a bag. So we try to give them the bigger picture.”

Since 2017, the Scripps Howard Foundation has distributed more than 352,000 new books to children in need as part of its annual “If You Give a Child a Book …” campaign.

This week, through a partnership that encompasses the foundation, KOAA 5, and Scholastic, more than 320 pre-K through fifth-grade Bradford Eagles benefitted from that philanthropy in the form of brand-new age-appropriate books.

The giveaway coincided with the observance of Read Across America Week and the birthday of celebrated author Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel.

The impressive cache of reading material was set up inside the school’s media center, which the scholars had not visited for a year due to COVID protocol.

So when the Eagles once again soared into the brightly lit center, the cornucopia of literary delights awaiting them proved to be blissfully overwhelming.

Every subject under the sun seemed to be represented, from fantasy to pets to dinosaurs to history to sports. Many of the books came with little trinkets, like pencil sharpeners, apparel and, in the case of a fuzzy unicorn-themed journal, a lock and key.

The excitement and anticipation on the faces of the Eagles was not lost on Michelle Padilla, Bradford’s Dean of Students and Media Specialist, who assisted the stream of children as they perused the shelves.  Michelle Padilla helps load a students bag with new books from the book fair

“They are so excited to be back in the media center. For me, that’s the best part,” Ms. Padilla said. “And with such a variety, it’s hard for them to narrow it down to four, but they are walking away with huge smiles on their faces.”

For one little girl, the unicorn journal was impossible to pass up.

“It’s so soft,” she said. “And it has a key to it! But I don’t know what I’m going to write in it yet.”

Another of the child’s selection, this one centered on animals, came with a pair of 3-D glasses.

“I hope it has huskies and wolves in it,” she said. “Because I like huskies and wolves.”

The fact that many of the Eagles picked up a book for a sibling or family member warmed the heart of Ms. Padilla.

“It’s a testament to how caring and wonderful they are, and how much they value their family at home,” she said.

On average, each child left the media center with $40 worth of books: which translates to nearly $13,000 worth of benevolence on the part of the Scripps Howard Foundation.

The books weren’t the only things the Eagles took home. Grade-appropriate carry all bags filled with supplies and activities, and purchased through Title 1 funding, are designed to engage the entire family in the child’s educational journey.

For those Bradford students learning remotely, the books and supplies were distributed in a drive-through format, with all remaining books are the school’s to keep.

As an additional show of support, Bradford is to receive a $2,500 pro-literacy grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation.

“In high need schools, kids don’t have enough reading material in the home,” Principal Alvarez added. “Research shows the more books you can put in the hands of kids, the more likely they are to do well all the way through high school.”  

Once the book fair concluded, the Eagles were given the opportunity to enjoy their gifts through a Drop Everything and Read (READ) period, which included a free sucker.

“We’ve been trying to put this together for a year,” Principal Alvarez said of the giveaway. “So this has been the perfect week for us, thanks to Scripps Howard Foundation and KOAA 5.”


Students checking out some books at the book fair