Kiel School students' birthdays will not be so easy to forget after the dates will live on inside the covers of books the kids donate to the school library on their birthdays.
Once donated, each book, purchased by the student's family, is added to a special section in the library and marked with a book plate that has the donating student's name and birthday written inside. This is the first year the school has implemented the Birthday Book Donation program, according to Principal Jodi Mulholland.
"It's just a creative and special way to add to our library," she said.
Parents of the students whose birthdays are coming up that month receive a letter explaining the program.
"Each month, on the day of the birthday book selection, a section of the front lobby will be decorated and set up with books. The birthday children are invited to 'shop' for their birthday books," the letter said.
The student's parents provide a suggested donation between $5 and $15, which helps support student activities, and choose whether the student will be selecting a fiction or non-fiction title. After the student picks their donated book, they bring it back to their classmates to share and then it is later brought to the library.
Mulholland said her hope is that students not only visit the library to enjoy the book they, and others, have picked while they are at the school, but also that they are able to return years later and still find that book with their name inside. The Birthday Book Donation initiative is one of many new programs at the school that encourage reading new books. Another, the Book of the Month program, has Mulholland choosing one book each month to be shared by all teachers and classes in school so that a larger, school-wide discussion could be held on the story.
Mulholland said she has seen non-fiction books gain popularity at the school, particularly amongst boys, and that the trend is supported by new state common core curriculum standards.
"A big focus is to include that non-fiction part," she said.
Kinnelon Superintendent Diane DiGiuseppe commended Mulholland and Kiel School on the Birthday Book Donation program at Thursday's board of education meeting.
"It's a unique way to encourage reading and rebuild the Kiel library," she said.