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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

Book #1,000,000: What Book Will It Be?

Book Harvest staff, L to R, back row: Daniele Berman, Nadiah Porter, Ginger Young, Charlia Vance, Kenitra Williams, Rachel Stine, Meytal Barak, Isabel Geffner; front row: Amy Franks, Paula Espinosa, Victoria Arrivillaga, Katherin Castillo.

By Daniele Berman, Communications and Events Manager

Two years ago today, we released this video, celebrating a remarkable milestone: we had just provided our 500,000th book to a local child. The video followed that book on its journey from book donor to volunteer to new book owner, and it encapsulated so much of what Book Harvest is about, everything from who our book donors really are (kids as activists!), how our books find their new owners (kids choosing their own books!), how those books move through our community (an army of volunteers!), and even what those books are (did you notice the book in the video? 2016’s Read for the Record selection!). That day two years ago was a thrilling moment and an exciting milestone many of us could never have imagined celebrating.

Today, two years later, we have provided 997,304 books to children in North Carolina. Don’t worry, I did the math for you: that’s 497,304 books in just two years. That’s 2,696 books away from a million. That’s a whole lot of stories, a whole lot of readers, a whole lot of donors, and a whole lot to celebrate. 

And a whole lot of questions! Who will receive the millionth book? Which program will it come through? And what book will it be?!?

I asked our staff team, pictured above at our annual staff retreat this week, what some of their favorite children’s books are. Perhaps one of these will be #1,000,000?

Founder and Executive Director Ginger Young shares that she loved Curious George as a child. “I was wildly fortunate in the 1980’s to become dear friends with Margret Rey, the author of the Curious George books with her husband Hans. Margret was an audacious thinker who saw the world through a most unconventional lens (George the monkey and his exploits were an expression of that). I gained a lifetime of wisdom from her. Today, when I watch a child select a Curious George book, it makes me beam.”

Kenitra Williams, Book Babies home visitor, says she can’t pinpoint one book that changed her life, necessarily, but one book she has read over and over to her children — and shares with her Girl Scouts to this day — is Nappy Hair, by Carolivia Herron. She had a moment of special pleasure when she learned from her daughter’s teacher that in response to a class assignment to “write about something you love about yourself,” Kenitra’s daughter wrote about her hair.

Finance Coordinator and Executive Assistant Charlia Vance remembers reading Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson when she was 10 years old. “Set in Virginia where I grew up, one kid had a hard childhood and one of the main characters drowns and that happened to one of my classmates. It was the first time I openly wept while reading a book and really connected with the characters. It taught me about life and death, friendship and loss, and that I would be okay.”

Program Director Rachel Stine says that she loved reading The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett when she was a child. “I loved how the characters were able to find something beautiful in the thorns and weeds of that overgrown garden. For me, this relates to the potential that books have and how they open up windows in life…seeing something that wasn’t there in your world before.”

Meytal Barak, Book Babies Team Leader and Family Partnerships Manager, first read The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery as a fifth grader. “It prompted me to ask lots of questions about the world we live in and the people around me. It made me realize that my community was a bubble…a really privileged place. For the first time I began thinking about how what I did impacted my surroundings beyond my school and community; it made me think about my greater society and the way I live with others.”

Advancement Director Isabel Geffner‘s favorite book is Amos and Boris, a heart-filled story by the incredible William Steig who portrays the interdependence and devotion between two very different characters who, but for happenstance, might never have discovered how much they had in common and how deeply connected they really are.

Paula Espinosa, Book Babies Support Specialist, can’t choose one favorite book but has always loved Dr. Seuss. “I love the play with words, all the fun adventures the characters had in each book and the colorful pictures. But my favorite part was all the imagination that came out of these books.”

Community Partnerships and Operations Manager Nadiah Porter‘s favorite book is Falling Up by Shel Silverstein. “When I was younger, I inherited this book from my cousin who was a public school teacher in Colorado. I have always had a love of poetry, riddles, and life lessons hidden in books, and this book had all of these things and more!”

Book Babies Team Member Victoria Arrivillaga‘s favorite book is also a Book Babies favorite. “La Oruga Muy Hambrienta (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) by Eric Carle was one of the first books I read to my children when they were babies, and now is one of the bilingual books we provide to Book Babies parents. It sparks children’s curiosity and creativity; it’s educational and interactive; and it introduces children to storytelling with a rhythmic tone that engages them from the beginning to the end.”

Katherin Castillo, Book Babies Pre-K/K Navigator, loves If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff because it can be read and enjoyed over and over and is funny every time.

Education Partnerships Manager Amy Franks loves Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor. “It is an intensely powerful story of family, pride, dignity, independence, and self-respect that taught me about social justice long before I ever knew that was even a thing, and this book helped me articulate and understand some of my own complex childhood experiences.”

As for my favorite, there’s no way I can choose one. I might just wait to see what book ends up being #1,000,000!

We hope you’ll join us as the excitement builds toward our big day!

  1. Share your “shelfie” with us to see your child and his/her favorite book featured during our celebration!

  2. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so you’ll be the first to know when we share our millionth book!

  3. And sign up for our enewsletter if you want the big news delivered directly to your inbox!


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