A Piece of the Magic

 By Kirsten Steele, Intern, Summer 2014

Clues. Dragons. Opportunity. Adventure. I have traveled to so many places, including but not limited to: China, Antarctica, World War II, Hogwarts, Pluto, Tenochtitlan. I have flown on magic carpets and breathed underwater. And it was possible in my mother’s lap, a chair, a car, a beach or anywhere else.

Unfortunately, a vast abundance of children don’t get to have such adventures. They don’t get to touch pictures of Winnie the Pooh while their mom or dad reads to them every night, and they don’t get to bounce around Barnes & Noble like a pogo stick gone haywire while they try to find ten books to take home. They don’t get to lose themselves in Harriet the Spy or Inkheart.

I had thought about this before, but had never realized how easy it was to make a difference. When I covered a fundraising event in October 2013 for my Durham Magazine internship, I met Ginger. Many executive directors would have been preoccupied by trying to “sell” their organization, but Ginger stood with me for twenty minutes asking questions about my favorite books. At that moment I sensed a kindred spirit—and that special kind of magic only gleaned from a relationship with books.

As the ensuing months went by, I felt the magic again: when Ginger emailed me thanking me for the talk; when I heard about a summer internship with Book Harvest; when I did research on the organization and saw its incredible impact on the lives of children that absolute pessimists would say were doomed for success in comparison to high-income children. But nothing compared to the moment the first group of kids gasped in amazement at Glenn Elementary Books on Break when they were told they got to pick out ten books to keep forever.

At that moment, I thought, “It doesn’t get better than this.” Then I proceeded to prove myself wrong again and again as kids jumped up and down over Diary of a Wimpy Kid, held up Roald Dahl books like the Holy Grail and thanked us over and over.

My favorite moment, although it’s incredibly hard to pick one, was when a little third-grader stood in awe said she couldn’t decide. I found Danny the Champion of the Worldby Roald Dahl, in which a little boy lives in a gypsy caravan. I described it to her. Her eyes lit up. “I’m gyspy,” she whispered. “I’m half Egyptian, half Romanian.” I stood there in shock as she gleefully put the book in her backpack. She smiled up at me and continued, “I just love books. I love to read and read and read. Thank you!”

Magic. It’s magic. Books are magic. Kids are magic. This job is magic and so is this organization. I am so incredibly lucky to be working at this place and I can’t wait to see what magic is in store for Book Harvest.