“Free Awesomeness”

By Melanie Davis-Jones, United Way of the Greater Triangle

Watching students file into the Media Center at Eastway Elementary School, some muddy and damp from Field Day activities, those of us volunteering were curious whether they’d get as excited about books. After all, how do you compete with a bouncy house? But when Daniele from Book Harvest asked, “how many books will you get?” each group of students enthusiastically shouted “10!” “And when will you need to return them?” “Never!” They were prepared for a field day . . .of books.

eastway for blog 1Boys and girls armed with bright yellow backpacks swarmed the tables, eagerly looking for their favorite titles. If all of the stacks had been “Wimpy Kid” books, packs would have been filled in a split second. Instead, try convincing a fifth grader that a Beverly Cleary book is as entertaining. Or a kindergartener that princess books are pretty but Doc McStuffins or a book about the President or another about snowflakes could be fun to read too. As an adorable five year-old observed, “the princess books are my favorite and that’s how I’m going to choose!”  She left with a backpack full that she’ll surely read because she chose every one.

eastway for blog 2One shy little boy wanted books about dinosaurs. Period. We found a pop-up book, a funny dinosaur brushing his teeth, and several others that explored everything from what they ate to where they lived. Success! Except we had four more to go. Luckily, he agreed that bugs just might be as interesting as dinosaurs. Thank goodness for cover illustrations that made insects look awfully terrifying too! He quietly made his way to his seat and joined the chorus of his fellow classmates happily sharing their new treasures.

A teacher had written on the white board, “Free Awesomeness” with Book Harvest. That it was.