Eighth grader collects books, money for children

May 14, 2019 GMT

DeKALB – Caleb James, an eighth grader at Huntley Middle School, still remembers the book his mom read to him every night for two years straight when he was a toddler: “Moondog” by John A. Rowe.

James is still an avid reader, reading more than 150 books this past school year.

To help promote literacy and a love of learning in young children, James started Books for Barbs, a project collecting money and young children’s books for the Barb City Food Mart.

James hopes to finish raising the $1,000 and 500 books by Friday. He has collected $815 and 150 books so far.

Monetary donations can be made online at gofundme.com/books-for-barbs. Books for infants through elementary school-aged children can be donated at the Huntley Middle School’s office, 1515 S. Fourth St. in DeKalb.


The project began at the beginning of April in teacher Ryan Corcoran’s eighth grade language arts class. Corcoran based the project, “Genius Hour,” after tech giant Google’s policy that allows its employees to spend 20% of their time to work on any pet project that they want.

“Having my students work on something that they’re interested in helps learning come alive,” Corcoran said. “I hope that they fail at some aspect of it because that’s where learning happens. If they’re not taking a risk or failing, they’re not learning something. And when they fail, they can either give up or keep going.”

Other students’ projects include helping dogs get adopted from TAILS Humane Society, writing and illustrating a children’s book, writing a young adult novel, and using music software to create a song.

However, unlike the other students, James is moving from DeKalb to Texas in about a month.

“Really, I don’t think of my project being any better or different from the others,” James said. “All projects are affecting the community. I want to give the same learning opportunities to others, especially those that are less fortunate and in low-income families. My teachers and schools helped me grow as a reader, I want to do something nice and help the community after I move.”