Rotary Club’s Book Buddies opens pages to Craig students |

Rotary Club’s Book Buddies opens pages to Craig students

Charlene Abdella, far right, reads to the students of Shawn Steele's second grade class at Sandrock Elementary School. Abdella and other members of Rotary Club of Craig visit local elementary schools on a monthly basis to share the reading experience. The program also provides students with free copies of books provided by Rotarians.
Renee Campbell

Most kids have to wait until Christmas morning to open their presents — maybe one on Christmas Eve if they’ve behaved themselves. If that’s the case, certain students of the Moffat County School District must have been very good because they received their gifts more than a week early.

As part of the Rotary Club of Craig’s Book Buddies program, local second-graders received hordes of new books last week, those they could keep for their very own. The people providing these items were also on hand to assist children in the full literary experience.

Rotarian Randy Looper said Book Buddies started about 10 years ago with club members occasionally working with students at Ridgeview Elementary School. A few years later, the program expanded to the other grade schools in Craig and added the benefit of providing free books for second-graders to take home several times per year.

Books are purchased with about $2,000 to $3,000 of club funds at the beginning of each school year.

“The kids absolutely love receiving the books, and what makes it special is that the books are theirs, just for them,” Looper said.

For some students, the gift of a book is just another one to stack up in a corner of their bedroom, but others cherish them because for whatever reason, their family might not be able to provide them with their own little library. And, just having their own collection of reading material could make all the difference in their learning process.

The selection also contains “a wide variety,” Looper said. Kids can pick out the books that fit their reading level, whether they still are mostly at ease primarily with picture books or seek the challenge of lengthier chapter books.

“You got ‘Junie B. Jones,’ ‘Captain Underpants,’ all kinds of stuff,” he said.

The members of Rotary Club also set aside time each month to read to their young charges, with Rotarians pairing up to visit the classrooms at each elementary school, most recently Dec. 19, prior to Winter Break.

Club member Charlene Abdella said she enjoys being a part of a project that lets her interact with the children of Craig.

“The most rewarding part of it is getting to know them and getting them excited about reading,” she said. “They really enjoy listening to us read, and we try to encourage them to read to us if they’re comfortable with it, and they get excited about that.”

Looper and Abdella have both experienced meeting students outside of the schools who instantly recognize them as a person who’s shared reading with them.

“That happens to me at the grocery store, they’ll say, ‘Mom, I know her!’” Abdella said. “It’s always cute.”

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or


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