Books on Break: High Fives!

by Sierra Wingate-Bey, Fletcher Fellow, A.J. Fletcher Foundation

​Volunteering as a personal shopper for Books on Break has been the highlight of my year, and that’s not an exaggeration.  There’s something really special about ​the bonds that we create with ​children’s books. They are the first stories we ​really ​come to know and love​ on our own​, and even as we become advanced readers in adulthood, ​those​ bonds never ​really go away.

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Matilda, for example, is just as important to me today as it was when I was in elementary school, and being able to find that book and pass it on to a child that’s never read it before warmed my heart more than I ever expected. Doing that over and over again, book after book, student after student was the best way I could have spent my afternoon.  Watching first graders go nuts filling their backpacks with books that I’ve loved my whole life only made my appreciation for those books grow. I know that their summers will be filled with adventures to far off places inside those stories, just like mine were, and I think our community will be better off for it.
There is nothing better than seeing the pure enthusiasm for reading ​that was on display from the moment I walked into YE Smith. I really ​appreciate​  that the students were given the option to chart their own course for finding the

​stories that would fill their bookshelves come summertime.​

My favorite ​moment​ was when a​ second​ grader ​realized that by choosing a treasury of fables with 26 stories inside he had technically superseded the ​allotted amount of books. We sat in the corner and counted all the stories in the table of contents ​ and laughed and high-fived because he had won the jackpot ​but hadn’t broken any rules.

​That type of excitement about reading is infectious and ​I’m just glad I could be a part of it.
I got the opportunity to return to the elementary school I attended ​ as a child​, which only made the experience more personal. The media center where we helped the students choose their books was the very same place that I had spent so much time learning to love reading.  I can only hope that Books on Break helps inspire that love of books into the kids I volunteered with on Wednesday. But lets be real, I saw the looks on their faces as they counted up their ten books each, I’m very certain that it did.


Sierra Wingate-Bey | Fletcher Fellow

A.J. Fletcher Foundation