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Children’s Choices bringing books to kids across Michiana

NOW: Children’s Choices bringing books to kids across Michiana

SOUTH BEND, Ind.— Bethel College Director of Student Teaching, Dr. Michelle Fish, is bringing the Children’s Choices project to kids across Michiana.

Dr. Fish teaches children’s literature at Bethel College.

“When I’m teaching children’s literature, I tell my students all the time, ‘books provide an opportunity to provide both windows and mirrors,’” Dr. Fish said.

Dr. Fish’s passion for books prompted her to apply for the International Literacy Association’s Children’s Choices Regional Coordinator position.

She got the gig.

“Storytelling opens the door to so many different worlds and opportunities,” Dr. Fish said.

Now, students at Battell Elementary in Mishawaka are part of the more than 12,000 students across the country receiving books from the International Literacy Association.

“The number one reason why I wanted to do this project, is so I could give back to my community. This is an incredible opportunity. Who has thousands of children’s books who are sent to them by publishers? And then, has the freedom to decide what to do with them?” Dr. Fish said.

Battell is one of several schools Bethel College has teamed up with for the Children’s Choices project.

“I like reading when I’m stressed out. It’s just like my own little world I can fantasize in, my books,” said Bailey Morris, a sixth grade student at Battell Elementary.

Students in Bethel’s Kindergarten Lab even take part in voting, ranking each book on how well they liked it, to give publishers a better idea of what kids want.

“You have children who have never read a book like themselves. And so, to read a book and have that mirror to see themselves reflected back, to say ‘oh wow, there is another child like me out there,” Dr. Fish said.

Once the votes are tallied and data is submitted, each school gets to keep the Children’s Choices books.

“Any chance that we get to put more books into these kids’ hands, is amazing,” said Emily Newland, Battell Elementary’s media clerk.

Dr. Fish says that buying brand new books is not something a lot of school can afford to do.

“I just wanted to be able to provide this opportunity to our community and to students, and to be able to give back in a way that on my own, would never be financially possible,” Dr. Fish said.

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