The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Children's book distribution program ending


March 16, 2017

Diana Zimmerman

Tanya Wisner reads The Sneetches and Other Stories to Lisa Sauer's first grade class. The class was taking part in what may be the last Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) free book distribution program

Last week, students at J.A. Wendt Elementary selected books for the last time through the RIF (Reading is Fundamental) program.

RIF, which started in 1968, has provided free books to students in hopes of encouraging literacy and a passion for reading. Federal funding for the program was cut in 2011.

The Wahkiakum RIF program was part of the Cowlitz chapter, which is ending due to a lack of funding, according to Robin Westphall.

Westphall, who is a member of the Wahkiakum School District school board and part of the leadership involved in the student garden, took over the reins of the local program from Mary Thomas this year.

Westphall still has a lot of questions about what can be done to revive RIF, but in the meantime, she is moving forward with plans for a local program to replace it. If you would like to help, please contact Westphall at 707-672-5609 or at

Diana Zimmerman

So many books, so little time. First grade students at J.A. Wendt Elementary get to pick out a book of their own through the RIF program. The program, which hoped to encourage a passion for reading in young students, was implemented in Cathlamet in 1993.


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