Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Baker County Community Literacy Coalitiongives away more than 500 books to local children

By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

The third-graders couldn't contain themselves, throwing out names of books hoping their favorites were on display.

Jim Tomlinson answered each question in turn, then invited the students to come forward, one table at a time, to pick out a new book.

"You get a sticker to put your name in it, and it's yours to keep. And you get to choose," he told the class.

Students at local elementary schools were treated to a new book this week as part of REAL - Read Everyday and Learn.

It is a program of the Baker County Community Literacy Coalition.

This week the group gave away more than 500 books.

"And we do it three times a year," said Tomlinson, who runs the program.

REAL is tailored to each school's needs - at Brooklyn, for instance, volunteers read with first-graders, although all the students - in Grades 1-3 - received a book this week.

The offerings covered various reading levels, as well as fiction and nonfiction.

Tomlinson said about 75 percent of the books are purchased at Betty's Books in Baker City.

"Our push is to buy local," he said.

Carolyn Kulog, owner of Betty's Books, also applied for a $250 grant from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association to purchase books.

REAL is funded by donations from local service clubs, businesses and individuals, as well as several grants.

Also, a Scholastic book fair held in the spring earns credits to purchase books.

Tomlinson said the books they give away cost about $4 each.