I’m guessing I’m not the only one who felt the sting of author Gary Paulsen’s death last month. Paulsen always championed the power of books, even in (or especially in) the digital age; he said that the internet “accelerated human stupidity.” He directed his reading efforts towards kids. Adults, he said “haven’t got time to think fresh.”
“Name the book that made the biggest impression on you. I bet you read it before you hit puberty,” he challenged. It didn’t take long for me to realize my own reading experience confirms that and I suspect I’m not alone.
Which is all the more reason for readers in the community to support the books for kids program in The Cove’s annual Manger Mall (which 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.)
The Cove started this program in 2015, spurred by retired speech and language pathologist Mary Kolts, who had been involved in a similar program in her previous community of Teton Village. The books for kids program relies on community support; it needs us to provide donations of new or just-like-new (and inscription-free) books for kids ages infant to 18.
Donations are accepted in collection boxes at the Mazama Store, Carlton Store, Ulrich’s Pharmacy, Twisp Daily Business, North Cascades National Bank, Winthrop Store, Three Fingered Jack’s and Winthrop Physical Therapy & Fitness. 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, www.trailsendbookstore.com.
If you’re at a loss for which books would be appropriate, Trail’s End can accept a cash donation and Mary Kolts, retired Twisp librarian Terry Dixon, and current Winthrop librarian Ree West will select books for specific reading levels, wherever the greatest need lies. When in doubt, turn to middle and high school age books.
Says John Kolts, Mary’s husband and co-organizer of the program, “I am impressed with the care parents take in selecting just the right book, and how excited they are when we can provide one they think will fit the bill.”
John says that the books program gets frequent requests for “how to” books for teens, and demand usually far exceeds supply in this genre. If you’re the DIY type, you can probably appreciate how useful a book about how to build something, how to fix something, or how to learn a new skill could be to a kid.
Less useful are coffee table type picture books, like nature photography. Parents of little kids tend to go for fun stories, and parents of older child tend to want chapter books.
If you’re wondering why, especially in our increasingly disposable consumer economy, Manger Mall doesn’t accept used books, it’s this: Part of Manger Mall’s objective is 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.
“Read like a wolf eats,” Gary Paulsen said. This year for Christmas, let’s help some Methow Valley kids howl.