Wilkinson Receives Book Grant

KCHS English teacher Ben Wilkinson was awarded 500 books for his classroom library through a grant from the Book Love Foundation. The Book Love Foundation (BLF) received 136 applications in 2014 from teachers across the United States and Wilkinson is one of only ten to be awarded this prestigious grant. BLF seeks to promote the love of reading among adolescents by providing classroom libraries of highly-engaging books to middle and high school English teachers. Of the 500 donated books, 400 of them will be carefully chosen by the Book Love Foundation, while Wilkinson will pick out the remaining 100 titles. Additionally, Friends of the Knox County Public Library has pledged to match the BLF grant book for book, which marks the first time that the organization has made a donation of this size. Wilkinson will work closely with Mary Ann Merrill, KCHS teacher and library volunteer, to select the books. The 1,000 books will be added to Wilkinson’s classroom library of nearly 300 that he purchased during the 2013-2014 school year. In his third year at Knoxville Catholic, Mr. Wilkinson has made a significant impact in the English department. During the 2013-2014 school year, he implemented the Independent Reading Program, allowing students to read a book of their choosing for ten minutes at the beginning of class. More than 250 students participated in the program; increasing library circulation by three times what is was the previous school year. Mr. Wilkinson hopes to continue to increase his classroom library in the future. “I believe reading is the most important skill a person can have, so my ultimate goal is to create life-long readers,” Wilkinson said. “When kids get to choose what they read, they read more. As their volume grows, they gain confidence as readers and as human beings. It's empowering. Having a large classroom library enables me to put the right book into each of my student's hands at the right time. Once I've done that, the book does the rest: something truly magical happens.”