WASHINGTON — Students at John L. Hensey Elementary School have plenty of books to read this summer thanks in large part to Connect Church.

For the third year, the church partnered with the K-3 school in District 50 to provide free books for students just before the end of the school year.

"The school has asked us each year for 300 new or gently used books. We've exceeded that number each time," said the Rev. Dave Jane from Connect Church.

"The majority of books come from our families handing down books that were read by their children," Jane said. "But now and again I see books that our families have purchased. We give the school every book we get."

Exceeding the 300-book goal is an understatement. Connect Church members donated about 800 books this year. Add another 200 books Hensey School purchased with Scholastic Book Fair proceeds, and the book number reached 1,000.

Students received books at a "Literary Luau" family event at Hensey School and during school hours in an effort organized by Hensey School reading specialists Jen Tallman and Judy Fleming.

The Literacy Luau featured celebrity readers like Washington Mayor Gary Manier, games, snacks and crafts. Sixty-five Hensey School students attended with their families.

Connect Church also donated a tablet and gift basket that were raffled at the Literacy Luau.

Jane said his church started donating books to Hensey School after he learned from teachers there that they often see students' reading levels go down during the summer, especially in families that have other financial priorities besides purchasing books.

Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or stevestein21@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.