9/4/08 Angie Estrada - Battle of the Books!

Angie Estrada plans to buy more than 500 books with her thousand dollar grant. It's going to be shared with all the second grade classes at Horace Mann Elementary School in Bakersfield.

"I'm just thrilled," beamed Ms. Estrada. "Most of our students don't have books at home. This gives them the opportunity to read many different types of stories."

Ms. Estrada plans to implement a program called "Battle of the Books." Here's how it works: All second graders will be given the same books to read. After they're done, all seven second grade classrooms at the school will battle one another on their knowledge of the books. It's something that is already in place for third grade and up in the school, but not for second graders. But Ms. Estrada was determined to bring the battle to the second grade. And if she hadn't received the grant, she was going to buy all the books on her own dime. In fact, Ms. Estrada was so excited, she already bought 50 books before she learned she was a winner.

"I was so committed to idea. I can skip pizza and buy books. They're something I can use every single year. It's a small investment for a long output, " said Ms. Estrada.

Ms. Estrada has been teaching for six years and believes second grade is when you have to hook kids onto reading.

"If we can get that love of reading fostered at an early age, it never goes away," explained Ms. Estrada.

So far, it seems to be working with her kids. Turning kids into lifelong readers - one classroom at time.