Nonprofit, sheriff’s office partner to strengthen students’ love of reading

Students at a Macon elementary school each took home five brand new books Thursday.

All 360 kids in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade at Brookdale Elementary picked out their own titles in the school’s media room. The giveaway was hosted by nonprofit Book ’Em in partnership with the Bibb County Sheriff’s Department.

“That will help them increase their fluency and it will also increase their love of reading,” said second-grade teacher Michaelanne Fentem. “It gives them a sense of pride and a sense of ownership in their learning and in their future.”

Book ’Em collects books from the community and purchases them for $1 to $3 each from nonprofits First Book and Scholastic. The books are then distributed by sheriff’s officers at local events and while on patrol, said Katie Powers, Book ’Em founder. The nonprofit is sponsored by Powers Law Group, Community Foundation of Central Georgia and Rotary Club of Downtown Macon.

This is the second year that Book ’Em has gone to Brookdale, and Powers hopes to make the schoolwide book giveaway an annual event. It gets students excited about reading and helps them expand their home libraries, she said.

“For some of them, it may be the the first brand new books that they’ve gotten or will have in their home,” said Powers, a former fifth-grade teacher and a Read United volunteer at Brookdale. “It’s just a huge impact on improving reading achievement for them to have books at home.”

Students interact with sheriff’s deputies at the book giveaway events, showing them the positive side of law enforcement, said Deputy Santel Smith, who has been involved with Book ’Em for three years.

“The children see us here. We’re reacting to their needs,” said Smith, who helped Brookdale students pick out books Thursday. “The interaction with them is amazing. It’s these moments that are the reason I put on this badge in the morning. I’m determined to keep them safe.”

Andrea Honaker: 478-744-4382, @TelegraphAndrea

Want to help?

You can make a donation to Book ’Em at