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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

Ready, Set…Summer!

Are you ready for summer? Well, these kids are!


By Daniele Berman, Communications and Events Manager

It’s Books on Break season at Book Harvest, and that means that dozens of volunteers and staff members are busy making sure our kids are prepared for a summer filled with great books. All told, 18,742 local elementary students will take home 97,099 books as they wrap up their school year, with all 30 elementary schools in Durham, all 15 elementary schools in Chapel Hill-Carrboro, as well as schools in Orange and Chatham counties participating!

We were also delighted to welcome North Carolina’s First Lady, Kristin Cooper, to Books on Break at Lakewood Elementary in Durham this year. “We all know the benefits of reading, and it’s wonderful to see an organization helping children have greater access to books so they can not only prevent summer slide, but nurture their creativity and imagination,” said Mrs. Cooper of her visit. (As you’ll see from the photos, Clifford the Big Red Dog also visited Books on Break this year — and while he was a very exciting and friendly guest, he didn’t have any comments for us.)

But while big book numbers and exciting visits are impressive, they’re not the most important part of the story. As anyone who has ever volunteered at Books on Break will tell you, the real story is the students’ experience of selecting their books. As with all of Book Harvest’s programs, one core value of Books on Break is choice, which means that students always get to select their own books. Both research and experience tell us that children are significantly more likely to read books they have selected themselves than those that have been selected for them. The consequence of allowing students to select their own books? Well, there are plenty of dramatic squeals, some jumping up and down, and lots of excited exchanges among friends: “Look what I found!”

There is also no shortage of moments of pure sweetness. Frequently, older students search diligently for books for their younger siblings; best friends try to find matching books to read together (one pair of girls at Glenn Elementary today was trying to match all ten of their books!); students whose parents don’t speak English select books in Spanish so they can read together.

Today, I had the opportunity to witness an absolutely delightful moment of kindergarten kindness: a boy found a Trolls picture book that he was very excited about. Very. The jumping-up-and-down, squealing kind of excitement. The kind of excitement that draws attention…which is exactly what happened. As he celebrated his find, this kindergartner was spotted by a classmate who is also a big Trolls fan. She came running over: “Trolls! Trolls!” Of course, there was only one copy of the coveted book. As I watched and prepared to step in to help the disappointed girl find a different book, the boy barely hesitated before he happily handed the book to his classmate: “Here, you can have it!” He didn’t miss a beat as he got back to the thrilling work of sorting through hundreds of other exciting options to fill his backpack.

If you could use a dose of summer reading excitement or kindergarten kindness, it’s not too late to sign up to help with Books on Break in Durham this year! Just use the links below to sign up for a date and time at the remaining schools, and get ready to smile:

Burton Elementary, June 1, June 4-5

C.C. Spaulding Elementary, June 5 -7

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