Day 14 — Books on Break

Hands down, one of the most joyful and fulfilling volunteer experiences I have ever had
Maureen Churchill

I’ve been looking forward to today for a while now. I spent the morning with some of my co-workers volunteering for Book Harvest. Each year they run a program called Books on Break that is designed to help keep books in the hands of young students during their summer vacation. 

Volunteers bring in boxes of presorted books to local elementary schools. They set up a pop-up book fair in the media center with books of different levels and subjects of interest. The classes are then invited to come to the media lab. When they arrive, they are given a Book Harvest backpack and instructions to head over to the tables and pick out 10 books. Ten books that they get to take home and keep, forever.

I’ve been trying to figure out the right combination of words to convey to you what happens when these children find out what is going on. But I’ve failed. I can’t do it. It was, hands down, one of the most joyful and fulfilling volunteer experiences I have ever had. I lost count of the number of smiles I saw and of the number of “thank yous” I heard.

We volunteers helped the children count their books, to make sure they got to 10, and offered suggestions of books to try. It was fascinating to watch how their personalities expressed themselves in their choices. Some were bold and knew exactly what they wanted. Others were shy and took their time searching for exactly the right books.

I went up to one boy to offer him some help. When I looked inside his bag I saw Disney Frozen books. I asked him if he liked Frozen and he said, “No, but my sister does. I am getting those for her.”

This boy, when presented with a room full of books, picked titles for his sister first. I told him he was a wonderful brother and asked him if he wanted to choose a few books for himself too, so they would both have books to read this summer. He agreed and we finished filling his bag with books he was interested in.

As the day went on I discovered that many of them took this opportunity to choose books for their brothers or sisters. What a beautiful and loving thing to do. No one mentioned that as an option. No one encouraged it. They did it on their own. Their instinct was to share their good fortune. How beautiful is that?

We helped more than 100 children this morning during our shift and gave away over 1,000 books. Books that will spark imaginations this summer and hopefully help keep these children engaged and reading. My sincere thanks to Book Harvest for doing this important work and helping to spread the joy of books and reading to these children. I also thank everyone who has donated books or time to them. This morning I saw who benefits from all of this, and I know I will be back to help in the future.

Learn more about the reason behind Maureen's 43 days of kindness blog idea here.


Categories: Education, Parenting, Searching for Balance