On Thursday, more than 600 of Helena's first-graders will celebrate the new school year with a free new book courtesy of the Helena Education Foundation.
The Helena Education Foundation as well as other sponsors will give the new hardcover books to the students during an event called the Fabulous First.
At Hawthorne School, two fifth-graders recalled their experiences from the Fabulous First.
"I was really excited to receive my book and I think that night I read my book like three times before I went to bed, so it was pretty exciting," Fifth-grader Luke McCarthy said.
Rylee Bronlie said she was thrilled to get a new book.
"It was pretty exciting because I actually got to read with one of the older fifth graders and it was super exciting," Bronlie said. "My mom helped me read my book about a couple of times."
The Helena Education Foundation will provide the new books with support from the Montana Book Company, Blue Cross Blue Shield Montana, Chelsey Frank, Allegiance Benefit Plan Management Systems, Helena Kiwanis, Mark and Lynn Etchart, Tom and Scottie Trebon, and Luxan and Murfitt.
In addition to providing financial support for the Fabulous First, sponsors and their representative will visit the schools to enjoy the opportunity to read with the first-graders.
Each school celebrates in its own way. Third-graders wrap books for their first-grade “buddies" and some ask current fifth-graders to write letters to each first-grader about their own experiences as Fabulous first-graders.
Some teachers write messages to each student about hopes and goals for the year.
Books are selected annually by a committee led by Hawthorne School's principal Dr. Deb Jacobsen.
In addition to each student receiving a book, full sets of this year’s selections are also purchased for the school libraries and the Lewis and Clark Library.
This year's titles include:
by Ryan Higgins
Thunder Boy Jr.
by Sherman Alexie
It’s Okay to Make Mistakes
by Todd Parr
Lady Liberty’s Holiday
by Jen Arena
Little Red Gliding Hood
by Tara Lazar
Madeline Finn and the Library Dog
by Lisa Papp
There’s a Lion in my Cornflakes
by Michelle Robinson
You’re Here for a Reason
by Nancy Tillman