Recently hired Sandy Hook School library media specialist Yvonne Cheh went to place an order for new books in June and learned that the bulk order qualified the school for a limited-time promotion of two free Amazon Kindle electronic readers.
"I sort of lucked out," she said.
The freebies started Cheh and other educators thinking about ways to introduce students to the devices. On Monday, the school began circulating its collection of now eight Kindles to fourth-graders, allowing them to borrow the devices and bring them home to read.
The pilot program is the first of its kind in the district, and educators are hoping it provides a model for other school libraries in town.
"We thought it would be good to give kids exposure to the devices," Cheh said. "There's a lot of interest because it's an electronic device."
While the collection began with two, the school was able to obtain more Kindle Keyboards strictly with the help of grants, officials said.
With support from principal Dawn Hochsprung, who said there was money in the cereal Box Tops for Education coupon program, and the Parent-Teacher Association, which made a mini-grant available, the school library purchased six Kindles to supplement the two it received for free through the book promotion.
"No school budget funds have been spent on this," Cheh said.
After weeks of lessons during which students learned how to use the Kindles and care for the device – which Hochsprung said involved YouTube videos Cheh made – the school library began lending out the devices to students to bring home for the first time Monday.