This sounds alarming does it not? Like I want to go to war. I don't want to go to war. I want to be the change I want to see in the world. Leggo.
Scholastic Book Fair. As you read those words, all the book worms shudder in delight. It was a joyous time for so many. You would get the thin paper news letter beforehand with lists of books that you may want, and you spent time circling all the things that interest you. If you had the big bucks, you'd circle the arts and crafts offering, or the big book bundle on the back of the sheet near the order form.
There were some of us that weren't so lucky. Your classmates who didn't even bother walking down to the book fair, because their parents couldn't afford lunch, much less the purchase of a book. I was one of those kids.
As a child who was reading beyond a high school level by third grade, the book fair brought with it a special kind of pain. All of those books, and I couldn't afford one. I'd sit in the classroom in silence, reading a book I picked up from the school library telling myself I wasn't jealous. My fourth grade year, someone noticed.
His name was Josh Huston. In later years, we didn't get along all that well, but in elementary school, you pretty much get along with everyone. He'd just returned from the book fair, and I asked to see the books he'd purchased. I don't remember what was said. I don't remember if I asked (I doubt I asked, in my house asking for something was seen as "begging" and I didn't want to beg anyone), but he handed me a book and told me I could keep it.
The book was "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler"
I read this book until the cover fell off. It gave me my first insight into New York City, actual museums, and all sorts of different things I'd never heard of. It showed me the independence of a young girl who was tired of everyone's shit, and just wanted to live in a museum for some peace. It also showed me the practicality of kids, because she knew her brother was cheap as hell and would have money to use on this adventure.
I too was tired of everyone's shit. But I lived in the middle of a small town with no actual culture scene. Nothing that Claudia had. Claudia's journey allowed me to have one in my mind, one where I wasn't the weird one, or the burden. That I would get to live out my dreams, if only for a little bit (she does after all return home).
I know Josh wasn't thinking of all this when he handed me that book. He saw a girl who was sad that she didn't get to buy any reading materials of her own, and he had the power to make her not sad anymore. For that, I will be forever grateful, no matter how annoying he became as we grew into young adults.
This started something in me. I swore to myself, if I ever had children, I was going to pay it forward somehow. Time has passed, seasons have changed, and I am a parent to a rather intelligent Geekybaby. This year was her first Scholastic Book Fair, and have times changed. No more thin tissue paper book list that you fill out. Things are digital. They still are allowed to roam the book fair though, searching for that special book or books.
Geekybaby has been doing virtual learning all year, but we felt safe enough that she could go to school for her end of the year testing. Speaking with her teacher previously, I explained what I wanted to do, and on that day, I sent her to school with 40 dollars in an envelope to make sure some kids who may not be able to get a book, are able to. I was able to provide six kids with a book. I want to do more.
I've told this story on my personal Facebook page twice. Once maybe a year or two ago, and once this week. People have told me, since the last time I have told it, that they send their children to school with extra money to do the same thing. I want to do more, I want this to be more. I don't know how to make that possible though. I think it would be an amazing thing that through one act of kindness 30 years ago (yeah I'm old), hundreds of kids are served.
So I am opening this to you. Do you have any thoughts? Any suggestions? Please leave them in the comments. I am also going to reach out to Scholastic to see if they can help too.
That one thing that you are doing just to be nice, may not save the world, but may reverberate years down the line. Think about that.