By Amanda Shaver
On Fridays this summer, BookSpring collaborated with the Housing Authority for the City of Austin (HACA) to provide books and story times for the children who attended the HACA/Capital Area Food Bank’s summer meal program. Spending this time with the kids ended up being one of the highlights of my summer for a number of reasons. I would like to share with you the top three:
If you have any doubts that kids still get excited about books—real, tangible, physical books, lose those doubts right now. They do. They get eyes-twinkling, face-lighting, smile-shining excited about them, and oh the care they will put into selecting just the right one. Throughout the whole summer, this book lover’s heart was touched every single time.
Having a chance to share a story is something truly special that brings people together. I know the children enjoyed it when I read to them, but the story sharing that meant the most was probably the sharing they did amongst themselves. One special moment in particular stood out for me. A sweet little girl, not even in Kindergarten yet, responded when I asked who had read their books already, “But I can’t read my book because I can’t read yet.” Immediately, an older girl sitting at her table volunteered, “I LOVE to read; I’ll read your book to you!” Before the lunch was even over, the two of them were hunched over a book together. And, as the summer went on, more and more older children volunteered to read the story time book or to read to the younger children.
Books are amazing tools. Of course, they improve vocabulary, can help us succeed in school and life—all those things we know. They can also build empathy, promote community, and encourage us to really talk to each other and share our thoughts. Nothing makes me happier than seeing this happen with the future generation. Every distribution day, I would see kids clustered together sharing the books they’d chosen, offering to share the books when they’d finished, and walking home together in an excited group still comparing books—or in some cases walking together all with their noses already in their new books, occasionally looking up to laugh and share something they’d just read.
BookSpring’s work of providing books and reading experiences to children and families is incredibly important to me. It is wonderful when I have the opportunity to see directly these things making a difference—brightening a child’s world. I want to thank all of you in the community for the book donations you make to help support BookSpring. I would particularly like to recognize HEB Read3, Keller Williams Realty International, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt because without their donations children would not have had the opportunity to choose so many books this Summer. I also want to thank our National Charity League volunteers for supporting this summer’s readings at the various HACA sites!