Madelyn Lanas got a "Pinkalicious" book because "It's really pretty." Christopher Wallace opted for an "Iron Man 2" book because "I think Iron Man will win."

Alex Foreshee picked out "Scooby Doo and the Weird Water Park."

"It is cool!" he said.

The kids, all in Laura Grote's first-grade class at Wilson Elementary School, chose the books Friday from a table stacked high with children's books provided by First Book-St. Louis.

They were among 189 kindergartners, first- and second-graders at Wilson Elementary who got books.

Eleven high school students read books to kindergarten and first- and second-grade classes.

First Book-St. Louis chose Wilson to receive the books because it's a lower income school, said Chris Hutchings, a high school English teacher who helped organize the project.

"It's a great time for the kids to be read to and a great time for the big kids to realize that the little kids need to be read to," said John Schooley, principal of Wilson.

Money for the books came from $1,083.36 raised by more than 100 Granite City High School students during a "Penny a Page" week in February. High school students got pledges of a penny in return for every page they read. The money included $250 from Granite City Junior Service, a local women's club.

Some of the contributions were in small amounts. Jimmy Kelly, a senior, read about 250 pages and donated $2.50.

"I read some children's books that I had at home," Kelly said.

Shayna Ringering, 18, a senior at Granite City High School, reread 276 pages of "Breaking Dawn," the fourth novel in the "Twilight" saga. She gave $2.76.

Liz Niepert, a business teacher at Granite City High School, enlisted the help of some students in her classes.

They got money from other students, neighbors and parents.

"Several of my juniors and seniors have jobs," Niepert said. They donated from their pay.

First Book-St. Louis raises money for books for children of low-income families. Since it was founded in 1998, it has given 75,000 new books to children throughout the area.

Next year, the project might be done twice, Hutchings said. That way, it can be held at Wilson and Prather elementary schools, he said.

Contact reporter Jim Merkel at 618-344-0264, ext. 138