MAPLETON, Maine — A group of pre-K and kindergarten students at Mapleton Elementary School received a visit Thursday from Daigle Oil Company employees, who delivered brand new books and shared a special storytime.
In September, Daigle Oil Company staffers helped distribute hundreds of books to Aroostook County elementary schools as part of the Bess the Book Bus project. Bess the Book Bus is a 501C3 nonprofit organization run by Jennifer Frances of Tampa, Florida, that donates free, new books for schools to keep in their classrooms via their book bus, “Bess.” During that visit, students from Mapleton climbed aboard the bus and learned about the importance of reading in their everyday lives.
This year, Bess the Book Bus decided to provide Daigle Oil with 1,500 books to distribute to Aroostook County schools in honor of National Reading Month in March. On March 7, three Daigle Oil employees — Micheal Ouellette, assistant division manager; Devon Hadfield, retail manager for the Caribou location; and Sonya Dechene, credit and brand manager — took turns reading a book to students before allowing them to choose one book to take home.
The remainder of the books were donated to Mapleton pre-K and kindergarten teachers to use for daily reading lessons and activities. Dechene said that Daigle Oil has been involved with Bess the Book Bus for eight years and that employees look forward to seeing the excitement on children’s faces during storytime and book distribution events.
“I think at an early age students have very eager minds and they enjoy learning about new things through books,” Dechene said. “At Daigle Oil, we’re glad to promote literacy as an important component of children’s early education.”
Storytime started off with Ouellette reading, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” by Laura Numeroff, which had students eagerly guessing what would happen next after the furry title character got himself into more than just a cookie. They especially enjoyed the unpredictable antics of the popular Dr. Seuss book, “Wacky Wednesday,” and the funny animal adventure, “Duck on a Tractor,” by David Shannon, which were read with enthusiasm by Hadfield and Dechene, respectively.
Although many of the students have not fully learned how to read yet, they loved hearing the folks from Daigle Oil read to them and choosing books to be part of their own collection.
“I like looking at the pictures,” said 6-year-old kindergarten student Austin Hines, about his favorite part of storytime. Hines chose a copy of “Star Wars: 5-Minute Stories Strike Back” to take home with him.
Four-year-old Evelyn Wardwell, a pre-K student, said that Thursday’s special storytime reminded her of what it’s like to listen to family members reading her favorite books.
“My big sister Charlotte reads to me,” she said.
Christi Doyen, Mapleton kindergarten teacher, noted how much she and her colleagues appreciated the book donations from Bess the Book Bus and Daigle Oil for taking their time to read to their students.
“Everyday, we do storytime, and today the kids were beyond excited to learn that we had guests coming to read to them,” Doyen said. “As an educator and a mother, I feel it’s important that children know how important reading is for building their vocabulary and imagination.”
Daigle Oil Company was scheduled to deliver their next set of Bess the Book Bus books to Pine Street Elementary School in Presque Isle on Tuesday, March 12.