Kids Need Books is sidelined until the COVID-19 crisis abates. In the meantime, here’s a story from last year.
The temperature hovered at the freezing mark and ghostly tendrils of morning fog floated above the hemlocks and cedars. I eased my car in front of St. Peter’s Catholic Church six miles east of Deming. It was not 7:30 AM and a long line of local residents waited silently outside for the doors to open and the Foothills Food Bank distribution and community breakfast to begin.
Today I would hand out books as well with Kids Need Books (KNB). Ro, my usual Deming helper, battled cancer and the toxic effects of chemotherapy, so she was not able to accompany me.
Within an hour I had set up seven long tables—covering the surface of each with books— inside the foyer. Moments later the food bank opened for business and folks streamed into the church hall. A dozen people immediately came over to the KNB tables and began selecting coloring books and crayons, board books, early readers and other reading material. More individuals made their way into the foyer and perused the book selection, filling bags with picture books, novels, and non-fiction reads.
After an hour of frenetic activity, there was a lull in the action and I worked at restocking the nearly depleted tables. A dark-haired woman, who was perhaps thirty years old, stood by a table of middle grade reading material. She picked up a novel about horses and studied it carefully.
“May I help you?” I asked.
She smiled and shook her head. “You already have.”
“Really? How so?”
“I’ve got a daughter in fifth grade. She’s a sweet girl but was never much of a reader—way behind the other kids in her class. So, you see, I never even used to come in here and look at these books. Figured my daughter wouldn’t be able to read them, wouldn’t be interested.”
She swept a strand of hair from her eyes and continued. “Then, about three months ago, I decided to give it a try. I found a series of books about a magic kitten. And when I brought those books home, they were magic, almost like a key that opened a stubborn, rusted lock. That night there was a reading frenzy in our house. I couldn’t get my little girl to go to sleep. She read way past her normal bedtime and got up early to finish the book before her bus came.”
The woman paused and took a deep breath. “Soon my daughter finished reading the whole series and I came back here and got a bag of books about puppies and horses and other animals. She read those. All of them. Then last week my daughter’s teacher phoned me.” The woman paused and swallowed hard. “Said my girl wasn’t behind in reading. Had caught up with the other kids and was moving ahead.”
The woman is weeping now. Sobbing.
She waits a moment to catch her breath, wipes away tears with the back of her hand. “I have no money to buy books.” Her eyes meet mine. “But you people give them to me. You give me books. You have no idea how much that means.”
Kids Need Books runs on donations and is part of the non-profit Interfaith Coalition. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation.
What a beautiful story confirming the importance of what KNB is all about!
Thanks, Diane. I look forward to handing out KNB books with you in the not too distant future.
40 years ago, I was watching my nephew who was dexlexic. He stayed with us and we’d ride our bikes to the ancient Deming Library. He was 10 at the time. We brought home comic books, novels about nature. I’d read to him every night.
Later, my own child, had reading issues. He too liked nature–to read an know when something didn’t make sense. He was able to realize his own mistakes.
both are successful in life. Reading was the key
Abbe, thanks for sharing this story. The Deming Library continues to be a wonderful institution and a vital part of the community.
Thank you Joe! This story touched my heart just like you, Ro and all your volunteers touched the hearts of many at our Tuesday Mornings.❤️ Someday soon we will gather again..Miss Tuesday Mornings and KNB.
Marie, I, too, miss Tuesday mornings at St. Peter’s. You and Don and the rest of the St. Peter’s crew do truly amazing work for folks in need.
Such a poignant and important story Joe. Thanks for all you do to help kids get books, especially those who wouldn’t otherwise have them.
Thank you for sharing this story, Joe. Your willingness to help introduce and strengthen the love of reading in the community is such a tremendous gift. I have seen it with my own eyes time and time again at St. Peter’s, and I know this is not the only “success story” to result from your efforts.
Devin, thank you for your kind words. I admire you for all the wonderful work you do in the Foothills community.
I have visited your wonderful offerings when I volunteered at Tues. Mornings. You always have such a great assortment of books for all ages. Sure hope we are able to return to serving our community soon.
Hi Joe – getting materials ready to share tonight with our First Congregational Church young people and their families about KNB – think I will share this beautiful story – if I can get through it without sobbing. Thank you AGAIN and AGAIN for this wonderful work you do.