Skip To Main Content
A girl with a big blue hair bow looks at picture books on a table
Alice, a third grader at Ruby Bridges Elementary School, sat quietly in her chair, gazing at two books in her lap: “Magic Tree House #16: Hours of the Olympics” and “Nancy Drew #1: The Secret of the Old Clock.”
“I chose Magic Tree House because I have read these types before, and I really like them,” she said thoughtfully when asked about her choices. Holding up the Nancy Drew – her first Nancy Drew book ever – she added, “I chose this one because it looks old fashioned and a little bit like horror.”
Alice was at a “My Own Book” event organized for Ruby Bridges by Zelta Phi,
A group of volunteers behind a table of books
the Alameda-San Leandro chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, a society of women educators. The chapter, comprised in large part of retired AUSD teachers, delivered more than 1000 new and gently used books for five classes of second and third graders at the school. The books included picture books and chapter books, fiction and non-fiction, and both classic stories and more recent publications.
As each class visited the room in which the books were displayed, students were told they could choose two books and a book mark. “Then write your name in the front with a pencil,” Linda Koistinen, who worked at the former Haight Elementary School as a media teacher for 24 years, told the students.  “These are your very own books to keep.”
Children gathered around a cart full of chapter books
Students gathered eagerly along the long table of picture books, at the cart of chapter books, and around the Zelta Phi volunteers, who helped the students find the books they wanted – whether it was the “Grumpy Unicorn” series, books about sharks and bugs, or books with doggie main characters.  (This latter request came from a girl dressed top to bottom in a brown furry pantsuit, which seemed fitting.)
Avi, also a third grader, said he liked the event because he got to pick his own books. He chose two books by Roald Dahl: “The Twits” and “The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me.” “I read ‘The Twits’ last year,” he said, “I want to read it again. Also we’re reading ‘James and the Giant Peach’ (another Doahl classic) now in class.”  
Riley, who was sitting next to Avi, had chosen two non-fiction picture books:
Long table of picture books
one about tornados and one about gorillas. “I like this,” he said. “I like reading books."
At the end of the day, the volunteers also gave 170 books to the five teachers for their classroom libraries.
Over the years, Zeta Phi has sponsored many literacy projects in the Alameda schools. The chapter's 20 members of Zeta Phi began planning this one back in October. It was a part of a year-long celebration of Zeta Phi's 60th anniversary.
“Isn’t this just the best?” Koistinen asked enthusiastically as she surveyed the room of excited students.  “When I was at Haight I worked with kids, books, and computers all the time. This is where all the fun is!”