Perspectives on a BIG Dream

By Daniele Berman, Community Partnerships Manager

If you joined us at our Dream Big Book Drive on Monday, you know it was a BIG day. Although we’re still working on the final counts, we know we had over 30,000 books and at least 500 people packed into Durham Central Park for our annual celebration of diversity, literacy, and books for all kids. And what a BIG celebration it was! World-class musical performances, delicious food, an array of fun family activities, and lots of people doing lots of work sorting lots and lots of books, all with the goal of achieving one very BIG dream: equal access to books and academic success for ALL children.

If you were on the ground with us on Monday, you know it felt BIG. Crowded and loud and buzzing with activity, you could tell you were part of something important going on. That crowd was working very hard and celebrating our work to change the literacy landscape of our country, starting right here in Durham. The crowd was too big to capture in one picture, even, but here’s a 30-second video glimpse:

 

 

If you were looking from high above, though, you might have gotten a different impression.

 

 

From above, our celebration looks small. And quiet. And still. Not particularly disruptive or noisy or busy or world-changing, not from 500 feet up. Look how big even just our downtown Durham corner of the world is compared to our little party in the park. What business do we have thinking a three-hour book drive is going to change it?

There’s an old African proverb that goes something like this: “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.”

At Book Harvest, we know how to give books to kids. You might even say we’re experts at giving away books. But what we’re out to do is so much bigger than that.

Every time we show up at a family’s home, at a school, or at a health clinic; every time we celebrate Dia de los ninos/dia de los libros or National Summer Learning Day or Read for the Record; every time we put on our Dream Big Book Drive, we are changing the narrative. We are rewriting the rules that say book ownership is a marker of privilege, that academic success is available to people who can pay for it, that unleashing the innate brilliance with which every child is born is an opportunity only some families can afford. Every person who is part of our Book Harvest family — every child who donates a book she has outgrown, every volunteer who participates in a book sort or stocks a bookshelf, every donor who helps fund our work, every family that celebrates with us at Dream Big — participates in changing the narrative with us. Every time someone puts a Book Harvest sticker on a book, she says again that book access is a right, not a privilege; that every child deserves to have everything he needs to reach his literacy goals; that every parent knows what her child needs to thrive and should have access to the support she needs to make that happen.

Some time this year, one of our volunteers will put our one millionth sticker on our one millionth book. That’s one million times a book donor right here in our little corner of the world has said ALL children deserve to grow up surrounded by books. That’s one million times a volunteer in our Book Harvest family has said literacy is for everyone and the system that prevents it from being so is wrong. Can you imagine the impact of a million mosquitoes?

To the hundreds of you who came out on Monday and the thousands of you who donated books and the uncountable numbers of you who have contributed to Book Harvest’s work since 2011, thank you for being part of the ever-growing buzz that is unleashing the potential of ALL our kids. THANK YOU for dreaming big with us. On to a million!

Many thanks for the fabulous videos and photos to Scott Van Manen, Estlin Haiss, Sarah Schulz, and Sybil Robb!