Bestselling author helping Mount Shasta Elementary buy library books

Liz Pyles
Mount Shasta Elementary School librarian Laurie Caldwell shows the difference between new and old while standing next to a bookshelf in the MSES library, which is stocked with many aging biographies. The library received a $3,000 grant from James Patterson and Scholastic Reading Club which will be used to purchase new, current, grade appropriate history, science and biography books along with books suggested by students.

Mount Shasta Elementary School librarian Laurie Caldwell smiles as she tells the story of a student who asked for a book on peacocks, which the library did not have.

She’s definitely planning to purchase a book about peacocks now that the school has received a $3,000 grant for its library from bestselling author James Patterson and Scholastic Reading Club.

Caldwell said she is excited to begin purchasing books the kids are interested in and plans to put out a suggestion box.

“This is the kids’ library really,” Caldwell said. “I just kind of take care of it. So, what do they want to see in here?”

Mount Shasta Elementary was chosen from thousands of applications that Patterson read; and he selected the grant recipients, according to a press release.

“As part of an ongoing effort to keep books and reading a number one priority in the United States, selected school libraries will be receiving grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000,” stated the release.

Caldwell plans to stay true to what she wrote in the grant and will purchase American history and science books that are grade appropriate. She said most of the library’s history books are at junior high and high school reading levels. Many are also old and out of date. She also plans to purchase new biographies.

Caldwell has been the librarian for the elementary school that serves students in grades K-3 for the last eight years.

She often has a theme for the week, reads books to classes, introduces students to new authors, and finds ways to keep kids interested in reading.

The Scholastic Reading Club is matching the dollar amount of the grant with “bonus points” that MSES teachers can use to acquire books and other materials for their classrooms.

Patterson has donated $3.5 million to school libraries nationwide since the grant program’s launch in 2015, according to the release.

Caldwell said she only had experience applying for local grants and did a little research to learn how to write a grant for this. What she learned is: “You write it from your heart. And since I love kids and I love books, it was pretty easy to do,” she said.