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Children’s author thanks Fargo students for their gift of reading

Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service Children’s author Jane Kurtz speaks Tuesday to the Bennett Elementary School assembly in Fargo, about how their donation was used to benefit students in Ethiopia.

FARGO — A local children’s author shared her love of books and Ethiopia with Bennett Elementary students during an assembly Tuesday.

Jane Kurtz, an Oregon-based author of more than 30 children’s books, visited the school to thank students for raising money to donate books to children in Ethiopia.

Last March, students at Bennett Elementary read 73,550 minutes and raised $580.96 for Ethiopia Reads, a nonprofit that builds schools and libraries throughout the country and provides books to more than 120,000 children.

Students at Bennett were encouraged to read in order to share that opportunity with others less fortunate.

“Your money helps plant libraries in schools so that kids get to hold a book,” Kurtz said.

Principal Tricia Erickson said last year was the first year the school had a reading challenge to benefit Ethiopia Reads.

Kurtz has been involved with Ethiopia Reads efforts for several years because of her ties to the country.

She lived in Ethiopia for most of her childhood. Many of her books, available in the library at Bennett Elementary, explore the country’s people, wildlife and culture.

Kurtz shared some of the differences between children in Fargo and the children she met growing up in Ethiopia. Not everyone got to go to school, especially girls who often worked in the home. Many children had to carry water or wood all day, she said.

“I loved books and reading, and I was sad that my friends didn’t get to go to school,” she told them.

She showed them a picture of a classroom in Ethiopia with 170 kids and libraries without books.

“My love of reading started with my mom and dad,” Kurtz said. “When I had kids, I helped them love to read.”

She spoke to the students about passing along a love of reading.

“You helped share books with kids in Ethiopia, and now those ideas will spread and kids will get strong and they’ll be able to solve the problems of Ethiopia.”