A More Light Congregation

Bethany Presbyterian Church

Classroom Book Drive

UPDATE: The Bethany congregation contributed $463 and two full boxes of books, including a complete 8-book set of Esperanza Rising, to help support the classroom library of Jenny Schurk. Jenny just started her second year of teaching English at Parkway Middle School in South San Francisco. The funds were combined with funds from the Orville Wycoff Memorial Fund, and used to purchase eight sets of 8 books each, which will be used by Ms. Schurk and her colleagues to set up literature circles with their students. The Community Life/Action Committee is very grateful for Bethany's support for this successful drive, and we wish Jenny and her students a rich and enjoyable year of reading wonderful literature for young adults!

We are invited to help support the classroom of Jenny Schurk, an English teacher at Parkway Middle School in South San Francisco.

We will offer support in two ways, by providing new or gently used books to expand the classroom library, and by purchasing several class sets of young adult literature so Ms. Schurk and her colleagues will be able to set up literature circles with their students.

The Community Life/Action committee invites you to look through your personal libraries to see if there are any new or gently used books you could contribute that would be appropriate for middle school students (usually 11 – 14 years old). We will be having two book drives this summer –on June 28, and on July 19 – where we will gratefully accept your book or monetary contributions. (But we know that books will be cheerfully accepted at any time!)

Ms. Schurk's wish list for classroom sets:


Monster by Walter Dean Myers

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska

The Schwa Was Here by Neal Schusterman

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

Absolutely True Story of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Please read Ms. Schurk's "Minute for Literacy" below, and consider how you might help out!

Hello friends!  

As you may know, I recently completed my first year in the classroom, and will happily be teaching 8th grade in South San Francisco again this year.   Our school is designated as a Title I school, and resources are scarce, to say the least.  As such, I am trying to build up our classroom library, and would also love to focus on obtaining sets of books for “literature circles” so that several students will be able to read the same book together at the same time.

Creating a reading culture is part of my teaching philosophy; we start the year by learning how to choose the “just right” book, and we begin each class period with 10-15 minutes of “reading for pleasure.”  This time is sacred in our classroom, and although it is often followed by small discussions or book interviews, there is little else I require of students except that they enjoy the book they are reading.  My hope is that this fosters a life-long appreciation of literature and reading for pleasure in my students.

According to the International Reading Association, “Adolescents entering the adult world in the 21st century will read and write more than at any other time in human history. They will need advanced levels of literacy to perform their jobs, run their households, act as citizens, and conduct their personal lives. They will need literacy to cope with the flood of information they will find everywhere they turn. They will need literacy to feed their imaginations so they can create the world of the future. In a complex and sometimes even dangerous world, their ability to read can be crucial.”

Crucial indeed: according to DoSomething.org, nearly 85% of the juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, suggesting that there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime. One in four children in America grow up without learning how to read at all.  

Beyond reading for survival, the National Literacy Trust provides overwhelming evidence that literacy has a significant relationship with a person's happiness and success.  The NLT also determined that reading for pleasure not only impacts reading achievement, but also increases general knowledge, a better understanding of other cultures, community participation, and a greater insight into human nature and decision making; in other words, reading literature for fun helps to develop a sense of empathy in our students, future citizens of the world.

Thank you in advance for supporting literacy and reading for pleasure in my classroom.  Know that you are promoting more than just reading; you are supporting social and emotional gains, and helping to develop future citizens who care deeply for each other and the world they have imagined through the books they have read.  With love and gratitude!  

- Jenny Schurk


Chew on This by Eric Schlosser

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Memories of a Childhood by Zitkala-Sa (might be out of print)