Janiellys Maldonado, left, shows her friends Layla Poirier and Danika Rawls her new books Monday morning after selecting them at Washburn Elementary School’s third annual book giveaway. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Washburn Elementary School students Mahaleigh Kimball, left, and Lucy LaBelle, right, select books Monday morning to take home for the summer during the school’s third annual book giveaway. (Bonnie Washuk/Sun Journal)

AUBURN — With just a few days left of school, Washburn Elementary School is getting ready for summer. No sun screen, beach chairs or towels were involved.

The school held its third annual book giveaway Monday at which each of the school’s 268 students picked five books to keep. The goal is to encourage student reading during the summer vacation.

First-grader Yaniellys Maldonado, 6, was a decisive “shopper.”

With her first-grade class, she examined a table covered with popular books, everything from “Pete the Cat” to “Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion” to “Pigeon Needs A Bath.”

She snapped up her selections, put them in her shopping bag, smiled and held out her bag, declaring, “I’ve got five books.”

Her choices included “Llama Llama Gram and Grandpa,” “Shark Bites” and “Aqualicious.”

“I like ‘Aqualicious,’” she said, a book about a little girl who loves the beach and finds a miniature mermaid. That bestseller paperback retails for $9.95.

Camden Footman, 7, picked “Fly Guys,” Lego and Pokeman books and another book titled, “I’m Invited To A Party.”

Older students were given an age-appropriate selection of chapter books.

Washburn literacy coach Carol Celani said the school wants to give students books to keep to build home libraries. She said research shows “if you have books at home that children get to pick out, it increases their reading achievement.”

Last fall, Washburn teachers attended a Scholastic warehouse sale in Saco and bought 3,000 books for the giveaway, according to Principal Andrew Bard. Getting books into the hands of students “is super important,” he said. “It’s very important for students to read at home.”

As a first-grade class entered the book room Monday, they were greeted by Celani.

“Welcome!” she said. “Today is Washburn’s annual book giveaway. Today you get to go shopping for books to take home for the summer.”

She modeled what she called “the museum walk,” where students walked around the book table and looked before touching.

“Put your hands behind your back like so,” Celani said. “We’re going to walk around the table, looking at all the titles and see if there are any books that interest you.”

There were.

Among the choices made by Hailey Lagasse, 7: “Mighty Construction Site,” “The Koala Who Could,” and “Grow It.”

She said she was looking forward to taking the books home.

“At bedtime, I’m going to read them to my mom,” Hailey said.

A letter was sent home to parents with the books explaining there will no no bill. The cost of the books was covered by a federal school improvement grant. Washburn has two years of the grant left, Bard said.

The last day of school is Thursday, the first day of summer. Summer vacation is beginning a little later this year because winter had so many storm days. 

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