JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It started out as a simple tweet with an ambitious goal — help put a book in front of every student at Brookview Elementary for literacy week.
It ended with more books than teacher Jessica Daniel expected, over 700 and still counting.
Call it the power of positive thinking, with a big assist from Jaguars fans and social media.
“I think it’s a little bit of disbelief and shock,” Daniel said. “I mean, you hear of stories happening, Brookview’s such a sweet, quiet, little school. So, the fact that this was happening at our school, it’s just like overwhelming.”
Daniel, a reading coach at Brookview, started the goal small at first.
She sought to have 24 books donated, one for every teacher in the kindergarten through fifth grade school. That goal was eclipsed in the days following launch of the literacy week campaign on Jan. 14.
Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! is Jan. 25-29
So, a new goal emerged. Why not try and provide a book for all 460 students in the school? Quite ambitious considering an initial post on Brookview’s Facebook page had all of 10 shares after being up for five days.
When Brookview teacher Heather Garner tweeted on Monday night asking for more help for the book drive, the school had 221 books donated.
Then, a Tuesday morning retweet of Garner’s post sent the book drive into overdrive.
Eric Dillard, who goes by E_Dilla on Twitter, retweeted Garner’s initial message at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday morning. Dillard has a sizable Twitter following and does the Bold Take podcast as member of the Jaguars’ fans-related Bold City Brigade.
That tweet gained instant traction.
A sampling of some of the tweets, with users posting screenshots of their purchases:
“Three more books on their way!”
“3 books on the way from Louisiana!!”
“3 comin’ down from Ohio”
“Thanks for sharing. 10 books are on the way”
There were multiple buys from out of state. A few from out of the country. Even well into the late afternoon and early evening, people were still buying books off of Daniel’s Amazon wish list and sending them her way.
Daniel said that within 30 minutes of Dillard’s tweet, the school had already zoomed past the 460 total. She and assistant principal Tammy Taylor then collaborated on adding other titles to the Amazon wish list for students. Just as soon as they could add titles and a number, those requests were filled.
“The excitement of reading comes with finding books that interest you. So, that was one of our things, we want to find books that our kids got to pick and choose and go through,” Daniel said. “... When it started going crazy, [Taylor] went online with me and helped me keep adding books that we knew were rich literature for our students,” Daniel said.
Less than three hours after the Tuesday morning retweet, Daniel said that every additional request that had been put up on Amazon had been fulfilled. In all, more than 700 books had been purchased for the school. More books were added to the list throughout the day as donors kept purchasing the titles.
Daniel said that Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! will be unlike any other at Brookview.
“They know so far that it’s only one book for a class. They do not know that they’re going to get to come to a classroom and have everything picked out and they’ll just get to come and shop for free,” she said.