Back row left to right, Bruce Reid and Sherry Howe of MUMC, Lupe Guzman and Matt Bennett of VVES. Front two rows, Mesquite Reads kindergartners show off their new books donated by Mesquite United Methodist Church.

Tuesday was a special day at Virgin Valley Elementary School for the kindergartners in the

Mesquite Reads summer program. Earlier in the summer, Sherry Howe visited the class to find a favorite reading topic of each child.

Howe, a retired reading teacher, took that list back to her friends at the Mesquite United Methodist Church, where the men’s organization financed purchase of an age-appropriate book for each kindergartner. Howe understands that a child is more likely to become a good reader when encouraged to read about a topic he or she loves.

On Tuesday, Howe and her colleague, Bruce Reid, returned to the school to distribute those books.

Reid found the Mesquite Reads program was a perfect match for his church group’s support of literacy when he discussed MUMC’s desire to help a local program with Gerri Chasko, director of the Eureka Community Initiative. ECI is the community outreach program of the Eureka Casino Resort, an employee-owned company.

Bethany, with her new book, “Dogs Don’t.” Books were given to each kindergartner in the VVES Mesquite Reads program to encourage early reading.

Chasko is the enthusiastic champion of the Mesquite Reads program, started six years ago at Virgin Valley Elementary School. VVES has run a very successful summer program that builds reading skills for kindergarten through third grade students in the Virgin Valley.

Chasko welcomed MUMC as another community supporter of Mesquite Reads, an effort that is broadly embraced by the community. With the help of ECI and hundreds of local citizens, businesses, and charities, Mesquite Reads now assists all three elementary schools in the valley to assure that every child has the best opportunity to read at grade level by grade three.

As Mesquite Reads originator Lupe Guzman and Principal Matt Bennett looked on, Howe and Reid distributed books to the kindergarten students. The kids showed off their reading skills by calling out the names of books and sounding out any unfamiliar words in the titles. Each book was then given to the child who had voiced an interest in that topic. From dancing elephants to fast cars, each book brought a smile of delight to the kids’ faces.

For some, it was their very first book to own. Showing off books to their classmates and their teacher, all the young readers promised to take their new books home to read and share with family.