A Soldotna Elementary student weighs his options in front of shelves of books on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at River City Books in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A Soldotna Elementary student weighs his options in front of shelves of books on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at River City Books in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Building ‘personal libraries’

Soldotna Elementary students take home reading from River City Books

Soldotna Elementary students from kindergarten through sixth grade visited River City Books on Wednesday, with each given the opportunity to select a book to keep as their own.

Kindergarten teacher AnnMarie Rudstrom said she pitched the idea when she heard Soldotna Elementary had Title I money to use for the promotion of literacy.

“We use that money for tutoring students and literacy curricula,” she said. “We decided this would be another great way to promote literacy — having the students self-select a book that they get to keep themselves.”

The event was intentionally scheduled to precede spring break, she said.

Rudstrom explained that she had run a smaller scale take on the same idea last year, when her kindergartners took a field trip to the bookstore and selected a book. This year, the entire elementary school participated — around 250 students.

Most students bussed over, but some of the older classes made the trip from the school to the bookstore on foot.

Visiting River City Books and choosing a book serves to introduce the students to a business in their community and to give them a potentially rare chance to choose what they want to read, Rudstrom said.

In preparation, she said the teachers at Soldotna Elementary had been discussing authors and subjects, figuring out where their interests may lie.

“They get the chance to go to the library every week in our school,” she said. “But I don’t know how many get a chance to keep a book in their own personal libraries.”

Owner Peggy Mullen said she was immediately interested in hosting the students when Rudstrom approached and pitched the idea. Mullen said River City Books offers a discount to the school district when they’re purchasing.

“We’re happy any time any kid gets to get a book,” Mullen said.

The selections were largely what Mullen expected, she said. “Age appropriate,” with “lots of unicorns.” A group of boys made short work of a small stack of Pokémon books.

She said “one little girl” chose an adult-level book about rocks and minerals — which did come as a surprise.

For more information about River City Books, visit river-city-books.com.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

Soldotna Elementary students select books on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at River City Books in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna Elementary students select books on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at River City Books in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna Elementary students select books on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at River City Books in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna Elementary students select books on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at River City Books in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A Soldotna Elementary student takes a book from a member of River City Books staff on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at River City Books in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A Soldotna Elementary student takes a book from a member of River City Books staff on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at River City Books in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna Elementary students check out with their books on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at River City Books in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna Elementary students check out with their books on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at River City Books in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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