Education

Local bookstore handing out 8,000 books to area students, teachers

Free book for first graders has a surprise ending

Gottwals Books is giving away the book "First Day Jitters" to every first-grader in public and private school in Bibb, Houston and Peach counties on their first day of school. Shane Gottwals says the book is for children but has a surprise ending
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Gottwals Books is giving away the book "First Day Jitters" to every first-grader in public and private school in Bibb, Houston and Peach counties on their first day of school. Shane Gottwals says the book is for children but has a surprise ending

The owners of a local bookstore want to calm first-graders’ back-to-school worries while fostering their love for reading.

Gottwals Books, owned by Shane and Abbey Gottwals, is giving away 8,292 copies of “First Day Jitters” by Julie Danneberg. All rising first-graders in public and private schools in Bibb, Houston and Peach counties will receive the book at their school on the first day back.

On Wednesday, 2,500 of those books will be handed out to Houston County public school teachers and guests during the district’s annual Opening Session at Southside Baptist Church. The district’s theme for the year is “literacy.”

“Exposure to a print rich environment in school and at home has such a positive impact on student success,” said Amanda Yoh, Houston County language arts coordinator for kindergarten through fifth grades. “We are grateful for partners like Gottwals. I look forward to seeing the smiles on our first-grade students when they receive ‘First Day Jitters.’”

Shane and Abbey Gottwals have three children and a fourth due in November. Their oldest, Millie, 5, is starting first grade this year, Shane Gottwals said.

“We’ve just seen her blossom into a little reader,” he said. “First grade is where the kids are really starting to learn to read on their own, and this book is at that level.”

Gottwals Books is giving away 8,292 copies of “First Day Jitters” to rising first-graders in Bibb, Houston and Peach counties at their schools on the first day.

“First Day Jitters” is a popular, fresh title with a funny and unique storyline that both children and adults can relate to.

“It’s just a great way to prove to the community that we aren’t just here to sell books, we’re here to support literacy and engage children in a love of reading,” Gottwals said.

There are several Gottwals Books locations in Georgia, including in Byron, Macon, Perry and Warner Robins, as well as franchises in South Carolina, Ohio, Kansas, Louisiana and Washington, D.C.

The store has done smaller-scale book and product giveaways throughout its 10-year history, but the “First Day Jitters” donation is the biggest yet, Gottwals said. Over the past couple weeks, the books were sorted, packed and distributed to district offices and private schools.

“Gottwals’ donation is just another example of how the community is partnering with us to ensure our students are reading on grade level,” said Tanzy Kilcrease, Bibb County assistant superintendent of teaching and learning. “It is our mission to engage our community in our efforts for preparing our students for success, and we are very appreciative of Gotwalls’ generous donation.”

Andrea Honaker: 478-744-4382, @TelegraphAndrea

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