Mark and I hauled in 18 containers of books and set up four long tables. Soon reading material covered nearly every inch of the tables’ surfaces with the overflow placed in bins on the floor.
Moments later the first wave of people came in and moved past the tables for the popup food bank, filling their carts with produce, meat, and eggs. As families finished getting the food they needed, they reached Mark and me and began selecting novels and reference material and everything in between. When the service dog puked in front of our tables, things slowed down a bit, but we put a box over the dog barf and continued handing out books.
A young boy eyed a thick, heavy four-book Heroes of Olympus series, by Rick Riordan.
“I liked the Lightning Thief, (by the same author),” he said, “so I think I’ll like these.”
I handed him a large bag and he slipped the books inside.
Next the young guy picked up a Harry Potter book. “Hmm,” he mused. “I’ve read the first five books, but this is the seventh. Guess I’ll wait. But you have the final book of The Hunger Games. That’s the only one I haven’t read. Can I get it?”
“Sure.” I passed the book to him. “Hey, what grade are you in?” I figured he was a very short middle school student.
“Third grade,” the boy replied.
“Wow!” I exclaimed. “And you’re reading at a high school level.”
The boy shrugged. “I’m a pretty good reader.”
“Yes.” I nodded. “A pretty impressive reader.”
The boy grinned, picked up his heavy bag of books, and hurried to catch up with his mother.
When I watched him leave, I wondered if his advanced reading ability and voracious appetite for books might be his ticket out of poverty.
While I was assisting the third-grade student, a kind soul had cleaned up the dog barf. Miracles, big and small, were unfolding around us as they did each evening during our book distributions.
People kept coming and Mark and I kept handing out books. Cookbooks, religious books, books about super heroes. The entire bin of board books disappeared. Latino families enthusiastically selected reading material from our large box of English/Spanish books.
Closing time was pushed back as people continued to come into the church hall for food and books. Finally, the last book customer filled a large sack with adult mysteries for herself and picture books for her grandkids. “God bless the two of you for doing this,” she said to Mark and me.
We put the remaining books into bins. Five containers were empty and others were half-filled. We stored the tables and headed outside. It had started to rain and the air tasted of spring and all things possible.
Kids Need Books runs on donations and is part of the non-profit Interfaith Coalition. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation.