img_2467Students at A.P. Solis Middle School will have an opportunity to enjoy reading the newest and most popular graphic novels, thanks to a literacy grant the campus received.

Librarian Erica Esqueda was excited to learn that the proposal she submitted to the Dollar General Literacy Foundation (DGLF) was approved for the maximum grant amount in the youth category. “I was incredibly excited to know that we were going to get the full amount of $4,000 so we can purchase new books that the kids would be excited about,” Esqueda said.

The DGLF makes grant money available to schools, public libraries, and nonprofit organizations to help students who are below grade level or experiencing difficulty reading.

“I’m really lucky that I have a principal who is a former English Language Arts teacher who sees the importance of books so my budget is pretty good in regards to the standard,” Esqueda said. “But I mean there can never be enough to fill all the popular sections of books and you have to keep having those popular books to keep these kids interested.”

Esqueda, who sought founding in previous years, stressed the importance of graphic novels for students at A.P. Solis. “A lot of people don’t value graphic novels because they think they have more pictures than words,” Esqueda said. “But for struggling readers these kinds of books get them excited and give them the motivation. The kids are successful when they’re reading these books so it really pushes them to the next level. Having the books available here for them is just really wonderful.”

img_2466Esqueda said it was important to make these books available to the students. “I really wanted to have books here that the kids would get excited about,” she said. “I know that they use our graphic novel section a lot but it really needed to be pumped up and we needed more funding to be able to do that for them.”

The funding was used to purchase more than 200 books. They include popular series such as Amulet, Goosebumps Graphix, Maximum Ride and Naruto and singles from such authors as Raina Telgemeier, Gene Luen Yang and Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm. “We selected the books from student input,” Esqueda said. “They’ve asked me for certain books and I would say ‘no, sorry we don’t have them.’ A lot of them are popular books. We ordered the same authors or similar books.”

Esqueda said the students are anxious. “I’ve been telling the kids about the new books and they’re getting excited and asking if the books are here yet,” Esqueda said. “I’m looking forward to putting them on the shelves. I’m hoping the circulation records will show that more students are checking out books and kids coming into the library who haven’t been here before.”

img_2470When sixth grade student Jose Jimenez heard the news, he came in early to check out a book. “I hope to read all of them,” Jimenez said. “I love books because they’re adventurous. They have you imagine really cool stuff.”

Esqueda believes these books will make a difference especially for struggling readers. “It’s definitely going to help our struggling readers but I mean we have a population of 700 kids and any of those kids can benefit from these books,” Esqueda said. “Even those students who are advanced can use the images for other reading strategies so I think that everyone here who comes to our library can benefit from these books.”