"If You Give a Child a Book" successful campaign at Garrison-Pilcher

Zambrano with book

Thomas County first and second graders at Garrison-Pilcher Elementary School each recently received their own hardback copy of “Dog Man: Twenty Thousand Fleas Under the Sea” by author and illustrator Dav Pilkey. 

Pilkey donated 25,000 copies of the millionth book donated to the “If You Give a Child a Book” literacy initiative funded by the Scripps Howard Fund. Copies of the book are being given to every student in the Fund’s 77 partner Title 1 schools across the country. 

Starting back at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, Principal Amy Tyson was informed that Garrison-Pilcher would be included in the generous literacy initiative that has been committed to putting books in the hands of children across the country since 2016.  Donations from local businesses and citizens in the Thomas County area were included in the seventh annual childhood literacy campaign which provided 200,000 books for kids across the country.

The main benefit that was anticipated from the program was a Scholastic Book Fair set up at no cost to the school in January 2023 in which each child in the school was gifted three books.  The added bonus gift of the highly anticipated graphic novel from Pilkey was icing on the cake!

Garrison Pilcher Media Specialist Elexis Griffin and Tyson worked hard to ramp up the excitement as the day on which the children would receive the Dog Man book came closer. Each classroom was given a package labeled “Mystery Box,” and Tyson doled out hints each morning during the announcements including:  the secret surprise cost for the entire school was over $10,000, the number 11, the letters D and P, and the item in the box is a noun that is a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers.

“The students have been so excited during the week over a simple box,” said Tyson. “Other parents approached me throughout the week sharing their children’s excitement and even putting in a few guesses of their own.”

One parent sent Tyson a photograph of her daughter who normally wants to jump straight in the pool on Fridays. On the afternoon of the big reveal she come home, put on her suit, and decided to “read her book” out in the sun on a beach towel.  The culture of reading and its importance is magnified through events like this. 

Griffin sent a message out to the faculty that said, “Oh my heart! Today's reveal was AWESOME! I teared up a few times watching the students get so excited and the reactions were priceless!”

Second grader Nicholas Zambrano, a student Leann Roddenberry’s class, guessed the contents of the Mystery Box because he is a huge fan of Pilkey’s graphic novels. 

Zambrano knew that it was Pilkey’s 11th book in the Dog Man series, and even told his teacher about asking his parents for the book over Spring Break.  Little did they know that his wish would come true through the generous donation from the author and Garrison Pilcher’s inclusion in the literacy initiative.

Roddenberry’s class has since committed to reading “Dog Man: Twenty Thousand Fleas Under the Sea” as a class as well as doing an author study on Pilkey.  Pilkey struggled as a student with reading disabilities who overcame adversity to become a best-selling author and illustrator.

“There are so many instances of hidden humor and plays on words,” said Roddenberry. “We are enjoying discussions as we read this adventurous comic as well as making Dog Man bookmarks and our very own comic strips.”

The importance of reading and the carryover into the lives of the students is indelible.

Liz Carter, president and CEO of the Scripps Howard Fund said, “When you give a child a book, you give them a chance at success.”

Dave Pilkey book surprise

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