By Daniele Berman, Operations Manager
This post originally appeared in the Durham Herald-Sun.
When Katy Loebrich and her colleagues at UNC-TV reached out to Durham-based nonprofit Book Harvest about running a book drive, the Book Harvest team had no idea that a local celebrity would be delivering the books they collected. But who better than a seven-foot-tall kangaroo to deliver 299 books to children and families in Book Harvest’s Book Babies and Books on Break programs?
As a director and producer for North Carolina Bookwatch, Loebrich knew that collecting books was the perfect service opportunity for their team. “I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love reading,” she explained. “So when my colleague Erica Starke-Knight produced a story on Book Harvest, it was just a natural fit for North Carolina Bookwatch to share our love of reading with our young friends at Book Harvest.” In fact, in its mission to make sure all children in the Triangle are growing up in book-rich home environments, Book Harvest relies on book drives like the one at UNC-TV to make sure their shelves remain stocked and boxes filled to the tune of about 1,500 books each week.
Director Joy Potts of Rootle, UNC-TV’s Kids’ channel, is excited about the partnership that this book drive and visit are poised to kick off. “Through UNC-TV’s book drive I was further introduced to the inspiring work Book Harvest is doing with early literacy in Triangle communities,” she explains. “It aligns with UNC-TV’s own commitment to provide accessibility to educational programming and resources to North Carolina’s youth and make them better prepared for learning.”
UNC-TV’s mission includes the belief that public television has the responsibility to change lives for the better; and Rootle aims to do so by providing wholesome, educational, and entertaining content that provides a rich learning experience for children from ages 3-8. It seems only natural, then, that the two organizations would work together to make sure that all children in the Triangle, regardless of income, have access to the tools and resources they need to be successful in school and beyond.
Last week, though, Read-A-Roo didn’t talk to the children gathered at Book Harvest about educational outcomes or resources for academic success. Of course, Read-A-Roo didn’t talk at all. What she did do was dance and clap, give hugs and high fives, and generally bring a buzz of excitement around books and reading to the group gathered that day.
The children in the room hardly needed her reminder that reading is fun; before she even arrived, they were busily filling backpacks with free books they selected themselves from the shelves in Book Harvest’s living room, to take home to keep forever. They enjoyed an impromptu storytime, tag-teamed by Book Harvest youth volunteers Luke Jackson and Noam Cohen, both of whom loved watching their younger siblings and their peers interacting with Read-A-Roo when she arrived. The children and their parents alike know the joy of owning books, and the fact that they got to choose books directly from Read-A-Roo’s pouch that day was just the icing on the cake.