News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.

Thousands of Books Given Away During 31st Annual Fiesta of Books Event

by Michele Earle

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El Monte

Literacy, story-telling, crafts, fun and games was the order of the day at the 31st Annual Fiesta of Books held May 3 at the El Monte Community Center.  Children with a passion for books and love for reading eagerly lined up for the event proudly coordinated by the El Monte Police Department, El Monte Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, Mountain View School District and the El Monte City School District.   Over 1,400 children and adults filed through the community center doors to select two free books of their choice from a collection of new titles as well as some old favorites.  Additionally, Fiesta of Books visitors were able to take home several slightly used books to add to their home library collection and each family received a free dictionary.
A community tradition for three decades, the Fiesta of Books aims to encourage a love of reading and reinforce the importance of literacy among El Monte and South El Monte’s children.  Approximately 2,700 new books were given away free of charge to the children thanks to generous donations from community groups, service clubs, businesses, school districts, the police department and individuals.  Special thanks go to Scholastic Books for their continued support of the Fiesta of Books.
“We are happy to put books into the hands of the children in the community,” said Casey Tom, El Monte Police Officer and Fiesta of Books Chairman.   “We greatly appreciate the generosity of this year’s donors including Longo Toyota, the El Monte Police Officers’ Association, El Monte Women’s Club, Mountain View School District’s CSEA Chapter 430, El Monte Business and Professional Women, Diane McMaster, Shakey’s Pizza, Food 4 Less, Starbucks and San Gabriel Valley Water as well as the volunteers who continue to make this worthwhile event possible.”
In addition to the free books, children enjoyed the storytelling room which featured a fun reading of the book “Elvis the Penguin”  a charming story that serves as a reminder that dreams, and dreamers, come in all shapes and sizes.    Adorned with penguins, flamingos, lights, music and Elvis memorabilia, the room was filled for each session as children and adults alike delighted in the story of the adventurous penguin.
“I love coming to the Fiesta of Books, it’s lots of fun and this year I got a book about the First Lady and a journal to write in that has Taylor Swift on it,” said a very excited 4th grader from Baker School.
On hand to celebrate literacy and share the programs offered at the local public libraries were representatives from the El Monte and Norwood Library.  Face painting and a large bounce house were part of the fun as well and guests enjoyed the many vendors’ booths selling greatly priced items and food.   Clifford the Big Red Dog, Officer McGruff, The Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2 roamed the event signing autographs and encouraging children to read.
“On behalf of the Fiesta of Books Committee tremendous thanks go out to our generous donors who contributed funds and books,” said Michele Earle from the Mountain View School District and Fiesta of Books committee member.
“Special thanks to all the great volunteers who organized and worked this wonderful event including the Mountain View High School Teacher Preparation Academy (TPA) students and the El Monte Police Explorers and interns who did a great job and whose service was invaluable to the event’s success. Every child who attended left with books and a great big smile!”
Boosting the love of reading in the community’s children is the goal of the Fiesta of Books which helps children build up their home book collection.
“The Fiesta of Books has become a tradition for many children who return year after year and it’s an event that shows that reading is not just a school focus, but a community-wide focus here in El Monte,” said Officer Tom.

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News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.
Thousands of Books Given Away During 31st Annual Fiesta of Books Event