TEMPLE, TX — Thanks to donations from 25 News viewers, nearly 3,000 children in Central Texas are benefiting from a new book.
For educators, that's a powerful thing to witness.
For one school in Temple, it's an annual tradition that almost didn't happen.
The recent 25 News "If You Give a Child a Book..." giveaway will leave a lasting impact on many young minds with more than 2,800 children picking out a book that piques their interest.
For first grader Zoey Santiago, "It's about tying shoes," something she's still trying to figure out. But that's not the only lesson she'll learn.
"Because if you don't read, like what book would you read? How are you going to know the words?" Santiago said.
That's why educators say reading is a fundamental skill.
For Pamela Demny, Principal of Jefferson Elementary School in Temple, teaching a child how to read is an emotional experience.
"Well, it makes your heart pound real fast. It's really kind of hard to explain," Demny said.
She gets a little teary-eyed just thinking about it.
"Education and reading, that's how you move through life. That's how you make a better life for yourself and your family and many of our students, they need that," Demny explained.
This year, the need is even greater.
The PTA at Jefferson normally raises money to supply students with books each winter but the pandemic got in the way.
"So, when we got the call that we were getting these books, the librarian and I, we were ecstatic," Demny said. "Many of our kids don't have books and this is the only book they have at home."
700 books at Jefferson are already being put to good use.
"When I read, I sound out words and I learn all kinds of new words," first-grader Victoria Rismendez-Rivas said.
"Because reading is fun," first-grader Romeo Zuniga said.
The Texas Education Agency has a list of books that are recommended for each grade level from 3rd through 12th on their website.