On Oct. 29 and 30, all third-grade students from the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS) got the opportunity to meet author Chris Grabenstein and receive a free copy of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library through a generous donation from the Downtown Kiwanis Club.
“Downtown Kiwanis is a service organization dedicated to reaching and impacting the lives of children in our community,” stated Price Hopson, Downtown Kiwanis President. “Youth Literacy has been one of our most important causes that we have tackled for the past 25 years. We have given over 100,000 books throughout that time to third graders in Clarksville-Montgomery County.”
In partnership with the Clarksville-Montgomery County Education Foundation, the Downtown Kiwanis Club has been sponsoring the Reading Rodeo for the past three years. However, this is the first year that the over 2,700 CMCSS third-graders, their teachers, and school library-media specialists had the opportunity to come together in one location to meet the author of the book selected to be integrated into the district-wide curriculum.
Chris Grabenstein is the New York Times bestselling author of the Lemoncello series, the Wonderland series, the award-winning Haunted Mystery series, The Island of Dr. Libris, and many others.
Grabenstein shared his journey to becoming an author with the students, which started when he won his first writing award in fifth grade. “She (his teacher) told me I would make a living as a writer one day,” Grabenstein told the students. “She was right. So, I can tell you guys that you need to listen to your teachers.”
“Mr. Grabenstein worked hard to achieve his dream of becoming a writer,” said Carol Baggett, library-media specialist at Sango. “Children need to see that their goals and dreams can be accomplished with motivation and determination. He inspired them to read and write and have fun at the same time. Maybe one of our students will become the next Chris Grabenstein. I feel fortunate that we could partner with Downtown Kiwanis and the CMC Education Foundation to make this experience happen. Our students will always remember it.”
“We feel it is vital to get children reading at an early age for a lot of reasons,” stated Hopson. “With our reading program, we will reach every single third-grade student in this community, and we hope to make great impacts on their lives. We couldn’t do this without the help of UPS, grants, an anonymous donor, and the CMC Education Foundation. Seeing how excited the students were today lets us know that we are doing right by them, and we hope to continue this for a long time to come.”