Deseret Book customers donated 1,168 books, a record number, to their elementary school libraries during April.

It was a record number in the company's "Month of a Thousand Books" donation program. The goal this year was to raise 1,000 gift books for schools across the state. Deseret Book will match the value of the donations up to $40,000.This is the largest and only private donation program that benefits all Utah elementary schools, according to Keith Hunter, Deseret Book vice president of marketing.

During the past eight years, Deseret Book (through LDS Foundation) has contributed more than $500,000 for the purchase of children's books and reference works for every elementary school in the state. The program is sponsored by the State Office of Education, the Deseret News, KSL Television and Radio and Deseret Book.

The "Day of a Thousand Books" reading marathon April 18 was the major event in the 1998 Hook-A-Book program. On that date 1,300 public and private school fifth graders in 22 districts met to read for about two hours at Deseret Book stores and other locations statewide.

Children read 93,500 pages of some of national best-selling children's author Bill Wallace's best-known books for intermediate readers. They read such books as "Snot Stew," "The Backwards Bird Dog," "Upchuck and the Rotten Willy" and "Watchdog and the Coyotes." Wallace was the guest author for the event. After talking to the children about writing and how to get ideas for books, he counted down to begin the Read-a-Thon. The kick-off was broadcast through a radio remote from the Deseret Book Superstore in Midvale to all reading locations from Logan to St. George.

"This is one of the best programs for young kids I've ever seen," said Wallace, an Oklahoma native who has considerable educational and teaching experience. He said he was impressed with the questions asked by children and encouraged them to believe in themselves.