Retired Preschool Teacher’s Library Sees New Life in Book Drive

Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, M.S. SpEd

With school funding limited, teachers are often forced to purchase much of their own supplies out of pocket if they want to provide their students with a quality education. This means paying for printed handouts, special projects, and even extracurricular activities on a teacher’s notoriously low salary.

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Nowhere is this felt more urgently than in classroom libraries. Many teachers will take the time to build a personal library of their own books for students to use. In preschool classrooms, this means slowly building a collection of books over the years designed to help kids learn reading, math, and basic life skills like shoe tying.

The cost can grow exponentially for new and even used books, so teachers will add just a book or two at a time, slowly growing their classroom library over their entire career. Charlotte Forward, a retired early childhood educator in Muskegon County Michigan amassed a collection of 400 children’s books alongside puppets and other toys she used when she would read to kids in her classroom.

“The children are just so magical at that age,” said Forward of her time as a teacher with 2 to 5 year old kids. “Literature is a great way to teach them about many things. It gets them started on critical-thinking skills.”

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Muskegon kept her library after her retirement from 35 years of teaching kids in Muskegon in the Grand Haven public school system. However, the books did not see use. When she heard that the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District was starting a program that would take advantage of book donations called Read Early, Read Often, she jumped at the chance to contribute.

Forward donated all 400 of her books to the drive in the hopes that they would continue to help teach and inspire kids for years to come. The books will be distributed into the schools, county health clinics, and even directly to the homes of some kids in Muskegon County.

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