'Firsties' expand love for reading with more books

New York Mills first-grade teacher Trudy Irons is excited to pick a wide selection of books with the students to encourage reading.

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As a first grade teacher in New York Mills, Trudy Irons received a $500 grant for purchasing new books in her classroom. "My hope is that these books will help instill a greater love of reading with my students," Irons said. Photo courtesy New York Mills Public Schools

With a love for reading that she passes on to her students, New York Mills first grade teacher Trudy Irons has even more books to do so with after receiving a $500 Scholastic Book Clubs Grant through the James Patterson Pledge. She plans to order a range of books from popular authors to social emotional health books and those requested by students.

“When I received the confirmation email from Scholastic I thought it was a hoax! I had actually forgotten about the grant, it had been five or more months since I submitted my entry. It took me awhile to accept the fact that I had actually been accepted,” Irons said in an email.

For a second year in a row, Irons was determined to try for her “firsties” after seeing the benefits two other teachers in the district had from receiving the grant. The expanded book selection will be for students to use in the classroom, at home and for three other first-grade teachers. Irons even plans to order books for Christmas presents for the students.

“Receiving this grant is such a wonderful opportunity for me to put more great books in the hands of my students. I love reading myself and I know how important it is to have a variety of books available,” Irons said in an email.

The books will include authors such as Robert Munsch, Mercer Mayer and Jan Brett, “Magic Tree House” books by Mary Pope Osborne and books for children on stress, anxiety, and change, as Irons said. You might even find that many second graders already love these books based on monthly author studies from first grade. The students learn about the author and read loads of their books with state standards wrapped in.


The additional books will continue the value of reading that Irons’ has taught in first grade for 13 years. She’s also taught reading recovery, Early Childhood Special Education and preschool.

She works to build on a foundation that parents have already begun with their children, since as Irons said, it’s a skill that should be started early.

“One of my No. 1 goals in first grade is to help my students fall in love with reading. I want them to leave first grade knowing that reading is a wonderful opportunity to learn new things,” Irons said in an email.

Rebecca Mitchell started as a Digital Content Producer for the Post Bulletin in August 2022. She specializes in feature reporting as well as enhancing online articles. Readers can reach Rebecca at 507-285-7681 or
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