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Author James Patterson helps stock William Walker Elementary School's library

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Joann Hulquist, principal for William Walker Elementary School, gives a tour of the library at the school. A donation from author James Patterson resulted in $5,000 that will benefit the Walker library. Mega-best-selling author James Patterson has written a lot of books, but the “National Geographic Readers,” “Minecraft” and “Fly Guy” series are not among them.

However, thanks in large part to Patterson, kid favorites like those titles and others will soon help fill the shelves in William Walker Elementary School’s library.

Patterson recently donated $1.75 million to work with the Scholastic Reading Club on a program that will donate books to 467 libraries across the United States. Nearly 28,000 libraries applied to be part of the program.

Walker’s $5,000 grant was the only one awarded in Beaverton and one of just a handful across Oregon. Nationally, the grants ranged from $1,000 to $10,000 per winning library, and Scholastic also is awarding matching “bonus points” to winners which will stretch book purchases further.

“The opportunity to enhance and support our library was something I couldn’t pass up,” said Erika Pollock, a second-grade teacher at Walker. “It’s like the heart of the school.”

She and Leilani Larsen, the school’s former library media assistant, applied for the Patterson grant last year.

Current library media assistant Sally Bozarth said she is happy to pick up where Larson left off, helping to incorporate the new books into Walker’s library collection during the second half of this year.TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Alonso Sanchez, 9, a fourth-grader at William Walker Elementary School, reads Invasion of the Road Wennies during library time at the school.

“We’ve been for a number of years working to upgrade our library,” Principal Joann Hulquist said.

They specifically want to upgrade their nonfiction titles — many of which are outdated — and buy more bilingual books. They also will ask students for their favorites, which likely will include kid-friendly graphic novels, chapter books and picture books.

Hulquist said that nearly 60 percent of the school’s 514 students are learning English as a second language, many of them Spanish speakers as well as those whose native languages include Arabic, Nepalese and others.

The school serves one of the lowest-income student bodies in Beaverton and many of their families can’t afford books. Because of that, Hulquist said her staff works hard to provide access to as many books as possible at school, and the Patterson grant is a big shot in the arm for them.

“Our general budget’s pretty slim when it comes to doing extra (purchases),” she said. “To keep a library updated is a pretty expensive program.”

School staff also encourage students to become readers by obtaining books that students can keep.

“They don’t have books at home,” Pollock said. “The presence of books reflects the value of books.”

And thanks to a partnership with nearby Powell’s Books, the school is a somewhat regular stop for visiting writers, including popular children’s author Margaret Peterson Haddix’s anticipated visit on Jan. 28.