South Dover Elementary collected more than 6,000 books for the Ghana Library Project, a book drive started by two local sisters.
Big cheese-pizza grins spread across their faces, Ms. Burrows’ third-graders at South Dover Elementary said they were very happy to collect the most books in their school ... especially since that meant they got a pizza party.
South Dover partnered with Zaria and Hailey, local sisters who have received national attention for reading bedtime stories on Facebook Live, to collect 6,347 books for a school’s library in Ghana.
South Dover principal Bill Buczynski said he never imagined they would collect more than a couple hundred.
“What we did show is when our community comes together, it’s powerful,” Buczynski said.
Zaria Hathorn, 13, and Hailey Willard, 8, have friends in Accra, Ghana, who told them that the Deacons Academy Montessori did not have books for its library.
“We heard that people didn’t have any books, so we wanted to change that,” Hathorn said.
They started the book drive in August with a goal of 500, and by Oct. 4 Kim Burrows’ class alone collected almost 600.
“The fact that that’s what they want to do, they want to help other kids, and they want other people to get experiences that they have, is fabulous,” Burrows said. She teaches in an inclusion classroom, which means about half of her students have learning challenges.
She said that every student, no matter their background, made an effort to contribute. Many of the students said they were “happy” or “proud” to send books to other students in Ghana.
In February, Zaria and Hailey started reading bedtime stories every weeknight at 8 p.m. via Facebook Live. They have grown their audience to more than 11,000 people.
“Our main purpose is to read a book of our choice each night at a designated time so that children can have a bedtime story each night. We are already reading each night but we thought it may be beneficial for children who don’t get this luxury,” their statement on Facebook says.
Family friend Chassidy Ingleton said she has noticed the girls’ videos making a difference in her child’s life.
“My son now likes to read because he watches them,” she said.
Burrows said she admires the girls for their dedication to reading.
“You want to encourage reading,” she said. “Not only does it help the kids with life, but it opens their minds and imaginations. Stories like fairy tales and nursery rhymes are disappearing, but give them all the books that we have now, and they get all that stuff.”
Zaria and Hailey have moved from reading books to writing them. The half-sisters wrote a book about the first time they met, and Hailey’s half-brother illustrated it, Zaria said. The book is the first in a series, and they expect it to be published in December.