Program distributes free books

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By David Giuliani

A local program handed out free books to kindergartners and first-graders at Armijo Elementary School last week.

Mary Jo Archibeque, West Las Vegas’ associate superintendent for instruction, said, “The value of this is to make sure children have books in their homes. A lot of these kids don’t have books at home. That isn’t a priority, and I think by giving them books and putting books in the homes, they will be more interested in reading.”

Veronica Morris, site coordinator for the Reading is Fundamental program at Armijo, said three times a year the children receive books, which are theirs to keep. She said three quarters of the funding comes from the RIF project and a quarter from the school district.

“The children get to choose their own books. We don’t choose for them; they pick up exactly what they want and have a good time doing that,” Morris said.

Morris said during the distribution, the kids come in small groups and before selecting a book, volunteers from around the city read a story to the children.

“Today we have school board members, the superintendent, the Highlands president, a district judge, a City Council member and people from the Elks Lodge reading stories,” Morris said.

Veronica Ulibarri is the RIF coordinator and administrative assistant to the superintendent; she also writes the grant requests and said the program has been offered at West schools since 1990.

“It’s always a joy to write the proposal to get funding so that we can get our 75 percent federal match and we hope we can continue to offer the program for many more years,” Ulibarri said.

However Ulibarri is concerned that the program may disappear.

“Right now President Bush is threatening to cut the funding, so we encourage everyone to contact the appropriate people so that we can try to continue to offer the program.”

Ulibarri said she gives full credit for the program’s success to the school site librarians for spearheading the program. She said they establish the committees to order the books and prepare the books for distribution.