Gwen Serafin, 5, flipped through the pages of “I’m a Princess” by Kirsten Hall and giggled at her favorite page, showing a father kissing the hand of his daughter who is dressed as a princess.
Gwen was among the 17 kindergartners at East Elementary School in Long Beach to receive brand-new children’s books donated by global publisher Scholastic on Thursday.
To replace the books lost after superstorm Sandy ravaged the area, Scholastic donated nearly 40,000 books to Long Beach Public Schools, with 7,000 going to East Elementary School.
“It makes me feel very happy,” Gwen said about her classroom receiving a box of new books. “This is my favorite book and it makes me feel joyful.”
Sean Murray, principal of East Elementary School, and Joshua Anisansel, Long Beach Public Schools director of English language arts, picked up the books from Hope NYC, an affiliate of Scholastic in Jamaica, Queens, on Jan. 10.
“The books are invaluable to both my school and the district,” said Murray, 36, of Lynbrook. “We had six classrooms that took on water damage from the storm, including our reading library. These books are going to help rebuild our school’s literacy foundation much more quickly than we would ever be able to on our own.”
Murray’s next stop was a fourth-grade class. With a turn of a page, students including Paige Levin, huddled around a nature book, squealing at pictures of cockroaches.
“I was excited when I saw the books,” said Paige, 9, of Long Beach. “I’m first looking at the pictures of a book of birds, and I know it’s going to help me learn about birds.”
Murray said it’s important to teach the 332 students at East Elementary how to read or learn new words and “that’s just not possible without books.”
Because of flood damage, the district’s middle school, prekindergarten center and four elementary schools will receive books. The high school didn’t lose any books, according to Murray.
“This was a project that took a lot of people, a lot of effort and time and the payoff is seeing the kids smile,” Murray said. “They needed these books.”