Grant to make new science books a possibilty for San Benito elementary

SAN BENITO — Attention to detail. Teachers and administrators hope to build that power in the young minds of Landrum Elementary students.

A $7,000 grant from the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries will now make it possible to purchase science books with updated information. Such books contain the kind of detailed information which requires a higher level of concentration.

“It’s really exciting, really wonderful,” said Principal Eva Bisaillon. “Our librarian did a great job in compiling all of the information required to complete the grant.”

Bisaillon said the librarian, Hilda Hernandez, is new, so having her efforts recognized in such a grand way is even more significant.

Hernandez said she was looking forward to stocking the library with new books.

“I want our library to have a collection that will help facilitate learning in the classroom and foster the love of reading in our students,” Hernandez said.

The Laura Bush Foundation is distributing more than $831,000 in grants to 130 school libraries across the country this year. The foundation provides grants of up to $7,000 to the country’s neediest schools to order to expand their book selections.

Landrum Elementary is located in a low income part of town, as is Travis Elementary in Harlingen. Travis is also receiving a Laura Bush grant worth $6,800.

Bisaillon said the science books will entail a kind of “expository” reading of informational texts, such as science and social studies.

“All of that expository process will help build the students’ stamina and capacity to read that more formal knowledge-thinking type of text,” Bisaillon said.

This kind of reading requires more attention to detail than fiction.

“Often they’ll read a narrative, they’ll read chapter books that are fiction where it’s easy if you miss a word or two,” Bisaillon said. “But when you’re reading nonfiction, when you’re reading expository, every word counts. So the children have to practice stronger skills.”

Those stronger skills of concentration empower children to think on a much more complex level.

“It all very much connects,” Bisaillon said. “And so that piece of the process, it’s not a story, it’s very deep words and those concepts tied together.”

The grant will also be used to purchase nonfiction books in Spanish, said Jennifer Zavala, counselor. Those books give students whose first language is Spanish an opportunity to do some expository reading.

“If they’re stronger in Spanish when they’re reading the richer, more meaningful texts, sometimes they lose that because they don’t have a mastery of vocabulary in English,” Zavala said. “They lose the deeper understanding. So it’s going to be beneficial to a lot of kids.”