Plaid Elephant Books launches classroom book subscription

Published 11:59 am Friday, September 1, 2023


At the start of the school year, Plaid Elephant Books – an independent children’s bookstore located in downtown Danville – announced the development of a new “Give-A-Book” subscription program for teachers.

Owner Kate Snyder explains that the idea for the program came from a statistic she read about how much of their own money teachers spend on books and supplies for their classrooms. “I was shocked,” Snyder admits. According to the nonprofit organization “Adopt a Classroom,” the average teacher spends $750 each year out of their own pockets. 

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“I see that in the store all the time,” says Snyder. “So many teachers come in and buy books and tell me they are for their classrooms. It felt like something that we as community members could help with.”

Snyder says she took the popular concept of a book subscription and adapted it, creating a giftable subscription where people can purchase books for the teacher of their choice. Each month, participating teachers receive one to three new books for their classroom chosen by Plaid Elephant Books. Teachers at any level are eligible to have their classroom sponsored and the program currently serves 14 teachers at seven different schools, from preschool through middle school.

Emily Schweickhart, a 6th grade English Language Arts teacher at John W. Bate Middle School, says that the Give-A-Book program will help broaden the range of titles available to her students. “As an ELA teacher, I see it as my job to encourage a love of reading in my students,” she says. “I couldn’t do that without my classroom library. If a student tells me they don’t like to read, we work together to find a book that’s a good fit for them based on their reading level and interests. We spend time in class giving book talks and recommending books to one another.  I love being able to put a variety of books into the hands of my students every day.”

The first round of book donations will arrive in classrooms in early September, with the program continuing through May. Snyder says that her first book choice for younger classrooms is a picture book called “The Sound of Kindness” by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. The book follows a young child and their father as the two decide to take a “kindness walk” and to listen for the sound of kindness in their neighborhood. “It’s a perfect classroom read-aloud,” says Snyder.

Book choices for older students were made with input from Snyder’s own children. “My youngest daughter is a fifth grader and she recently discovered and fell in love with a novel in verse about a young sea otter,” says Snyder. “She was so engrossed that I literally saw her walking home from school with her nose in her book.” This prompted the choice of “Odder” by Katherine Applegate as the September book for 4th and 5th grade classrooms.

Snyder says that the community sponsors of the program include parents and grandparents, but also people who don’t have children in the schools and just want to support teachers. Danville residents Lynda and Richard Ross opted to sponsor two teachers. “We’ve been discouraged by local and national efforts to ban books in schools and libraries,” explains Lynda. “The Give-a-Book initiative seemed like something we could do to support teachers and to encourage reading.”

The cost per month to sponsor a teacher ranges from $20 to $25, depending on how many months a donor wishes to commit to. Book selections are made by Plaid Elephant Books staff and books are delivered to teachers each month. Details about the program – and an online form to sign up as a sponsor – are available on the Plaid Elephant Books website at