Beautiful Chaos

by Luke Jackson

One of the most special experiences I ever had at Book Harvest happened a few months ago, when I went to stock shelves with books at the Carrboro Community Health Center with my mom, Daniele Berman, who is lukedanielethe Operations Manager at Book Harvest. To reach the children’s waiting room, we walked through much of the clinic, and I was amazed by the diversity in the group. There was a constant babbling of voices, some in English, some in Spanish, some in both, and some in languages that I could not make out. But when we reached the children’s waiting room, we both fell silent. It was a beautiful sight. There were books strewn all over the floor. Some were open, for some parents must have had to tear their kids away from their reading. The shelf, which had had over 200 books a week earlier, was stripped of its contents. The Book Harvest sign which read in Spanish and English something along the lines of, “Hey kids, free books!” was lying on the floor. It was beautiful chaos.

So, we started right in picking up the books from the floor and putting them on the shelves. We also started to put in the new 200 books. By the time we had finished, the bookshelf was crammed to the very max. We were turning the before-mentioned sign to “just the right angle” and starting to get ready to leave when two kids walked in. They were a Latino sister and brother. The girl was about six years old and the boy two or three. The girl shuffled in shyly, but her brother walked right in, spoke a few Spanish sentences, and reached for a Thomas the Tank Engine book. He plopped down in the middle of the floor, started looking at the pictures, and I saw a smile start to appear beneath his pacifier. His sister, however, was in the doorway, mustering her confidence to come and speak to us with the little bit of English she knew. Shortly, we had her outfitted with a few bilingual Pinkalicious books and she was as happy as her brother, if not happier.

A few minutes later, their mom came in and was astonished to see her children happily looking at books. We let her know that the books were free and that her kids could take them home for themselves. The kids left, still flipping through the pages of a book or two. I wouldn’t realize until we were in the car on the way back to the Book Harvest office that that was the most meaningful experience for me at Book Harvest yet and that that truly reflected the mission it was on: to give the community books.

Luke Jackson is the son of Daniele Berman, the Operations Manager at Book Harvest. He is in the sixth grade at Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill.