McFadden

Seven-year-old Jakhari McFadden admires the Nordic Hall design in his new “Minecraft: Essential Handbook.” The second-grader and every student at Sidney Lanier Elementary School now has access to free books with the school’s new book house, which was unveiled at about 11 a.m. Tuesday in the cafeteria.

David Hoffman / Alligator Staff

Latrell placed a book about jungle animals on his head and abandoned his shoes as he showcased his Michael Jackson dance moves in the Sidney Lanier Elementary cafeteria. The 10-year-old was living his dream of being a king.

“I want to be a lion so I can be king of the jungle,” the fourth-grader said. “And I’m gonna be the next Michael Jackson.”

On Tuesday morning, former Sidney Lanier school nurse Carol Wilt and school resource officer Debbie Parker unveiled the school’s new book house library, a 6-foot-tall treehouse-shaped cabinet filled with books donated by residents and parents.

During their lunch break, Sidney Lanier students will be able grab as many books as they’d like for free.

Wilt and Parker first came up with the idea after Wilt, who retired in May after 30 years at the school, said Thrivent Financial, a Christian philanthropy firm she invests in, gave her $250 for a charity project of her choice.

The project was especially important at Sidney Lanier due to the number of underprivileged students, she said.

“A lot of our students, they can’t afford books,” she said.

After Wilt and Parker unveiled the book house to about 50 students during their lunch break, smiles lit up and the kids ran up to grab a free book of their own.

Second-grader Jakhari McFadden sat down with his new “Minecraft: Essential Handbook” and tore through page after page, deciding which structure he’d teach his cousin to construct next.

“I’m gonna show her how to build a big house and a wall,” the 7-year-old said. “This is my favorite thing.”

Between dancing, Latrell grabbed a second book, “Hair Styling Tips and Tricks for Girls” by American Girl Publishing.

“I like looking at the pictures of the girls,” he said, his eyebrows raised. “They cute.”

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