A Life-Changing Gift

By Daniele Berman, Operations Manager, Book Harvest

When my oldest child was not yet three years old, he was whining in the backseat of the car, as toddlers are wont to do. I handed him a book, hoping it would distract him for the remainder of our errand. The exasperated response came from the backseat, “But I can’t read the words, Mama!” Although I had spent several years guiding adult community college students in developing their basic reading and writing skills, I had no experience teaching children to read—but at my son’s insistence that he really, really must learn to decode the words for himself and not just look at the pictures while we drove, I began my first adventure in equipping a child to read the very next day. Although he had sat on my lap and shared stories with me from birth, the journey of making those words his own—first as he read them, then as he devoured them, and now as he writes them—couldn’t have taught me more about the power of books in a child’s life. Erasmus said, “When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” My son, now nearly eleven years old, regularly scrapes together his quarters and pennies to add volume after volume to his overflowing bookshelves, bookshelves which seem to multiply in every corner of our home to contain all the stories our family so treasures.

As you can imagine, then, having the opportunity to share that gift with other children—to make the bookshelves and bedside tables of all children in the Triangle overflow with the life-changing gift of their very own stories—is one that I jumped at when I heard Book Harvest was hiring an Operations Manager. Two weeks into that role, I have not only delighted in the experience of working with Executive Director Ginger Young and learning the systems involved in getting our books into children’s hands, but I have also had the privilege of meeting many of the amazing volunteers who make it all happen. What an exciting and energizing and fulfilling place this is to spend my days; I can’t think of enough adjectives to describe how much I have loved my first two weeks with Book Harvest! If you are a volunteer or a donor or are otherwise involved with Book Harvest and we haven’t met yet, I look forward to getting to know you soon. And if you aren’t yet involved but would like to know more about our mission and plans, please contact me—we can learn the ropes together!