By Tim Eiden
Special to Independent Newsmedia
Convincing a third-grader that reading can be more exciting than video games is always a challenge. So that’s exactly what the Peoria Firefighters Charities did — they challenged them. The “Fill the Boot with Books” reading program dared third-graders to read 50 books in two months, a feat they were able to conquer.
A total of 352 students from Cotton Boll, Lake Pleasant, Frontier and Vistancia elementary schools competed this year with an overwhelming 32,500 books read in the two-month span.
“The students set a new standard this year by reading 5,000 more books than in the previous year,” said Peoria Firefighter and Charities representative Josh Carpenter. “Their motivation to read at this age is impressive and will surely set them on a path of future success.”
Fire crews made a special trip to each of the four schools to read to students.
“Our goal is to foster an environment that makes reading fun,” Mr. Carpenter said. “The teachers do such an amazing job building a foundation that enables kids to find pleasure in reading.”
Each participating school receives a custom-made trophy fashioned from an authentic firefighter’s boot. The class that reads the most books can proudly display the trophy in their classroom for the remainder of the year as a reminder of their achievement. As an added incentive, the school that reads the most books wins a Peoria Firefighters Charities district trophy. This year, the trophy went to Vistancia Elementary, whose students read an average of 120 books in two months.
This is the 11th year of the program held by the Peoria Firefighters Charities, and to date, more than 180,000 books have been read.
The Peoria Firefighters Charities held an awards ceremony and BBQ at Rio Vista Park, March 2. Students were treated to a lunch of hot dogs, chips, drinks and everyone’s favorite dessert—ice cream. Individual and group awards were handed out to the winning schools and students for their hard work and dedication.
Editor’s note: Mr. Eiden is a spokesman for the Peoria Fire-Medical Department.