When Sovereign Avenue School teacher Kristen Williams helped school families after the flooding from Hurricane Sandy in Atlantic City she was touched by how upset students were about losing some favorite books.

So a group she belongs to at the Ocean Heights Presbyterian Church in Egg Harbor Township is hoping to replace those books for as many students as possible, starting with fourth-graders at the Sovereign Avenue School.

The “And the Other Women,” or ATOW, group at the church has set up its 2012 Caring Tree with cards asking members to “Bring a Book to Church” and envelopes in which members can put money to buy books. The public is also invited to participate.

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“The children in these homes don’t have that many books, and they lost them,” said Tanna Williams, Kristen’s mother and a member of ATOW.

The focus will be books for children ages 5 to 14.

ATOW member Alice Groome said any money donated would be used to buy books through the school, which can get a special rate, and if they get enough, they will also provide books to the Texas Avenue School, which also had many families affected by the Oct. 29 storm.

Kristen Williams, who teaches in the deaf inclusion fourth-grade class at Sovereign Avenue School, said students like a wide variety of books. She said fourth-graders are particularly fond of the Percy Jackson series by Rich Riordan and the “39 Clues” series by different authors.

“The Diary of a Wimpy Kid” by Jeff Kinney and “Dear Dumb Diary” by Jim Benton are also popular. In the nonfiction area, a series called “Who Would Win?” compares two animals, such as a shark and a killer whale, or a polar bear and a brown bear.

“Having books in the home increases the chance that a child will stay in school, and the more books they have, the further they are likely to go,” she said in an email.

She also asked some of her students what having books means to them.

“Books make me feel happy because my dad supports me by reading with me and getting me books,” Hasnaat Malik said. “They help me do my best.”

“To me, having books is important because kids need to learn how to read,” Alexandra Vargas said. “They help you learn new vocabulary. Kids also like to learn new things. I like getting lost in the setting and characters.”

The church also will sponsor an “alternative gift fair” after the 10 a.m. service Sunday during which members can purchase donations to area agencies to give instead of gifts this year.

“We do that every year,” Williams said. “But this year our focus is on groups that have been particularly hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, like the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City, or have been helping since the storm, like the Salvation Army and Jean Webster’s Kitchen.”

Contact Diane D'Amico:


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