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Rockwood School District 2020 Niche Best Schools

111 East North Street, Eureka, MO 63025 | Phone (636) 733-2000 | Fax (636) 733-8851

Birthday Book Cart Promotes Love of Reading at Uthoff Valley

Second-grader Shekinah smiles with her new book from the Uthoff Valley Birthday Book Cart.
The Birthday Book Cart rumbled down the hallways at Uthoff Valley Elementary last Friday, piloted by Principal Danna Thorne.

Even though the cart is chock-full of books and can be tricky to navigate through turns and close quarters, Thorne has become a pro at handling it. She captains this vessel nearly every school day, wheeling it around to classrooms, recognizing students on their birthdays and letting them pick out a book to keep.

"They’re excited to come out and choose a book, then show their friends which book they got," Thorne said. 'We’re constantly trying to find ways to help promote the love of reading. We do a lot of things here at Uthoff, so this is just one more way to get books in kids’ hands.”​

Thorne said a PTO parent brought the idea to her last year, and they designated a portion of their book fair proceeds to buying books for the cart, so that every student could choose a book on their birthdays. Since then, the idea has spread to Stanton Elementary​ as well.

The July and early August birthday students received their books at a special event earlier this school year, and the June birthdays will get their books at a ceremony at the end of the school year in May.

"We write their names in it, and it's their book to keep," Thorne said. "They can let a friend read it, or some kids will donate it to the little library we have out front after they read it."​

On this particular Friday, the cart made three stops for four birthdays. While second-grader Shekinah didn't have to look for long to find her "Magic Tree House" book, third-grader Lucas gave careful consideration before arriving on a book about sharks.

It has more than 260 stickers, you know.

"The students ask me about it, they see me before school and want to know if I’m going to come visit their classroom and bring them a book," Thorne said. "They’re always happy to let me take their picture so they can show their parents they got their book.”

Third-graders Lucas and Cameron smile with their new books from the Uthoff Valley Birthday Book Cart.Fifth-grader Maxon smiles with his new book from the Uthoff Valley Birthday Book Cart.Principal Danna Thorne smiles with the Uthoff Valley Birthday Book Cart.