For many of us, books have been a solace during the pandemic. We’ve dived into fiction for escape; we’ve used poetry to make sense of strange times; we’ve developed empathy for others through memoir; we’ve put current events in historical perspective through non-fiction.
As we head into the dark days of winter I know that many of us are counting on books to sustain us in the absence (or at least diminishment) of the social whirl that the holiday season typically provides. COVID or not, lockdown or not, books will be a constant for us through difficult times. And there are kids out there in this unofficial club of bookworms, but they need your help in getting books into their hands.
In 2015, The Cove’s Manager Mall program incorporated books into its gift shopping lineup, with the goal of providing an age-appropriate new book of interest to every child served. (Manger Mall is a program that gives families with limited funds access to gifts, toys and now books to give as Christmas presents for their children. Shoppers pay $1 for one traditional gift and one handmade item for each child they’re purchasing for, with gifts averaging $15-$20 in value.) Now in its sixth year, the Manger Mall’s book program is robust, but relies entirely on community support.
Donations of new or just-like-new (and inscription-free) books for kids ages infant to 18 are accepted at the Mazama Store, Winthrop Physical Therapy & Fitness, the Methodist Church, the Winthrop Store, North Cascades National Bank, Mick and Micki’s Red Cedar Bar, and Ulrich’s Pharmacy. Additionally, Trail’s End Bookstore has a collection box for books purchased at the store, using the 10% discount offered to support the Manger Mall program. Bookstore shoppers can make their selections in person, over the phone, or via the website http://www.trailsendbookstore.com.
If you’re not sure which book to buy, Trail’s End can accept a cash donation and the book program’s organizer, retired speech and language pathologist Mary Kolts, will select books for specific reading levels, wherever the greatest need lies. When in doubt, turn to middle and high school-age books, or number 15 in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series: “The Deep End.” (Which, perhaps, is what many of us will go off if we don’t get our books.)
There are several avenues for acquiring gently used books in the valley, most notably at the libraries’ book sales and at the valley’s many free little libraries. But Manger Mall specifically solicits books in new condition, to give children the experience of receiving gifts that seem to have been created just for them — gifts that have not already been used or played with by another child.
Author Stephen King calls books “a uniquely portable magic.” If you’ve ever wanted to be a magician, this is your moment. Make a book appear in some kid’s Christmas stocking? Voilà!