Pi Beta Phi donates 78 books to promote literacy & inspire a love of reading
By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor
Amat, an Allen Elementary third grader, knew immediately which book to borrow from the collection of 78 that had just been added to the school library.
“I chose ‘The Arabic Quilt’ because when I right away heard the name of it —Arabic—well, that’s my religion,” she said.
Disappointed this year that they were unable to volunteer at the school because of COVID, the Pi Beta Phi sorority at the University of Michigan instead decided to donate books celebrating diversity as suggested by Allen librarian Christine Woelmer.
“At Allen, we are always interested in making sure that our books reflect not only our student population but the population of the community and the population of the world,” said Woelmer, “because we want our students to be able to experience that through books and see themselves and their neighbors reflected in what they read.”
On Tuesday, Woelmer introduced Indigo Lee’s third graders to the new collection, and one by one they chose a book to borrow for the week.
“The students were thrilled to be able to explore the new titles and couldn’t wait to share this experience with their families,” said Lee. “Many of the students were especially excited to learn more about the culture of their classmates through these new books. I feel grateful we had the opportunity to dive into the new collection.”
Chloe Ruscilli, Pi Beta Phi’s director of service and philanthropy, explained that during a normal year, members would help Allen students with their math skills on Mondays and Fridays around lunchtime and on occasional game nights.
“The kids are all so positive, welcoming, and eager to grow and learn,” she said. “Unfortunately, shortly after I joined Pi Phi, the COVID pandemic hit and it became unsafe to volunteer with them in person. We wanted to support them in any way we could during the pandemic while staying safe, and decided on a book drive.”
The book donation fits perfectly, she said, with Pi Beta Phi’s philanthropic effort to “Read > Lead > Achieve” by inspiring a love of reading and promoting literacy.