The power of reading


This past week marked the start of my new Reading Program at Adare Primary School. In the span of 4 days I taught 23 classes with a total of 1,368 students, grades 1-8. Each class was held in the library so that students who’ve never held a book of fiction before would get a chance to read for an hour.

The plan (hope) is to repeat this program once every month. Grades 1-6 got an introduction to literature. We read some books aloud and then I passed out books for them to read independently. In the coming months we’ll have more focused readings…a day for fairytales, nonfiction, poetry, etc.

Grades 7 and 8 will be participating in a reading challenge. Anyone remember the BOOK IT! Program sponsored by Pizza Hut? Rewarding reading with pizza? Genius. So with that in mind, students will come in every month and read as many books as they can (and then answer the critical thinking questions I created for each book!), and the student from each class (there are 10 grade 7 and 8 classes) who reads the most/answers the most questions correctly will win a goodie bag at the end of the semester.

Goodie bags will include school supplies (most of which I’ve already been able to collect), games, and books. And that’s where you can help. After all, ’tis the season to be generous : ) You can buy a cheap, used book and ship it to Ethiopia FOR FREE – that’s over 7,700 miles if you’re in Minnesota! (Though of course you can ship from anywhere!)

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If you’d like to help Adare Primary School Students, here’s what you do:

1.  Choose a book (or 2! or 3!) from the wish list below. I will cross out the books that have already been purchased. Please feel free to send anything you want, even if it’s not on the list!

2.  Go to Better World Books ( and use the search bar to find your book. Choose the cheapest, used option! Send it my way FOR FREE, PEOPLE. The shipping address is:

Ashley Bostrom
P.O. Box 1129
Hawassa, Ethiopia

3.  Send me an e-mail ( letting me know which book you ordered so that I can update the list. Also, I’d like your mailing address.

4.  Watch your mailbox for a thank-you note from Ethiopia : )

Ten of the chapter books will be given out as prizes, and the rest, along with any picture books/books of poetry, will be donated to the school’s library and used throughout the course of this program (and for many, many years to come!).

Book List:
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna Aardema
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
The Perfect Orange: A Tale from Ethiopia by Frank P. Araujo
The Lion’s Whiskers and Other Ethiopian Tales by Brent K. Ashabranner
Thomas & Friends: Rolling on the Rails by Rev. W. Awdry
Thomas & Friends: Rolling on the Rails by Rev. W Awdry (Uncontracted Braille)

Scooby-Doo! #29 A Very Scary Valentine’s Day by Mariah Balaban
Betsy’s Day at the Game by Greg Bancroft
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
The Berenstain Bears Count Their Blessings by Stan & Jan Berenstain
A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
The Little Golden Book of Jokes and Riddles by Peggy Brown

The Story of Babar by Jean De Brunhoff
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Would You Rather? by John Burningham
Donkey Dust by Jane Buxton
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary
Pets to the Rescue: Brave Norman by Andrew Clements (Uncontracted Braille)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The Best Saturday Ever! by Gary Cook
The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin and Roasana Faria (Braille)*
Monster Needs a Costume by Paul Czajak
The BFG Roald Dahl
Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
Matilda by Roald Dahl
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo
The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo
Are You My Mother? by PD Eastman
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Corduroy by Don Freeman
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Scooby-Doo and the Karate Caper by James Gelsey
Tigerbuttah by Frank Gibson and Becky Dreistadt
Once by Morris Gleitzman
The Teaching of Braille Reading by Randall K. Harley, Freda M. Henderson, & Mila B. Truan
The Black Book by Middleton A. Harris
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
The Seven Crystal Balls (The Adventures of Tintin) by Hergé
The Shooting Star (The Adventures of Tintin) by Hergé
Tintin in Tibet (The Adventures of Tintin) by Hergé
Scooby-Doo! #2: Disappearing Donuts by Gail Herman
Scooby-Doo! #2: Disappearing Donuts by Gail Herman (Uncontracted Braille)
Harold’s ABC by Crockett Johnson
Harold’s Fairy Tale by Crockett Johnson
Nancy Drew: Big Worry in Wonderland by Carolyn Keene (Contracted Braille)

Fire on the Mountain by Jane Kurtz
Pulling the Lion’s Tail by Jane Kurtz
Only a Pigeon by Jane & Christopher Kurtz
Water Hole Waiting by Jane & Christopher Kurtz
A Day in the Salt Marsh by Kevin Kurtz

When the World Began: Stories Collected in Ethiopia by Elizabeth Laird
Helen Keller and the Big Storm by Patricia Lakin (Uncontracted Braille)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Red Book by Barbara Lehman
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel
Winnie-the-Pooh by A A Milne
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N Munsch
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
Bridge to Terrabithia by Katherine Paterson
The True Story of Pocahontas by Lucille Recht Penner (Contracted Braille)
Curious George: The Dog Show by Monica Perez (Uncontracted Braille)

Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Holes by Louis Sachar
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Great Day For Up by Dr. Seuss (Uncontracted Braille)
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (Uncontracted Braille)
Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
Falling Up by Shel Silverstein
There’s a Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina (Uncontracted Braille)
It’s a Book by Lane Smith
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto by Natalie Standiford (Uncontracted Braille)
Grasshopper Pie and Other Poems by David Steinberg
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
A Day at the Lake by Stephanie Wallingford and Dawn Rynders
Charlotte’s Web by EB White
Stuart Little by EB White
The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

Flotsam by David Wiesner
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey & Don Wood
Any books based on Disney films (Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Cinderella – Conracted Braille, The Jungle Book, Peter Pan, and Winnie-the-Pooh)

*The Black Book of Colors is a braille book – one of our students is blind and he has literally nothing to read. I’d love to give him this book and then stock our library with any other braille books you’d like to send! A great place to find cheap braille is Seedlings Braille Books for Children…that’s where I found all of the braille on this list. A more in-depth braille list can be found on my blog about International Day of People with Disability.

Alibris ( is another great website for used books – just search for which books are eligible for free shipping!


From myself and all of the students here at Adare – THANK YOU : ) You’re changing lives with every book that’s sent. Please feel free to pass this blog along to anyone looking to do some good over the holidays! You won’t find more grateful kids!

Update: Now that April is upon us, I just want to thank everyone who’s donated books to this program. We had a total of 254 books sent to Adare Primary School! Now that my service is winding down, the time for sending books has finished. Thanks again!

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