Two things this week brought this story to mind. When I unpacked my Christmas decorations I found a note that my daughter wrote me last year about our secret library project. I also had a status update from a friend who was promoting her schools holiday book fair to buy books for their school library.
It’s probably been close to 20 years. I think it’s ok to confess, yes, it was us. 🙂
As a mom, I did my best to find creative ways to teach my children about sharing and making the world a better place. Instead of rooting through the cupboard and finding stuff that we didn’t want to eat for the canned food drive at the school, I made it into a lesson. I gave them each $10 and we went to the store. My thought, one they could pick out their favorite things—within their budget to make their donations. This also let them see how much that box of Fruit Loops cost, and did they want to spend that much of their $10 on a box of cereal. They made great choices, a nice balance of what was a bargain, and what they would like to eat.
I’m not sure how the Christmas book project came to be. When they were learning to read, they would bring home books from the elementary school library. These books were not in the best shape. There weren’t a lot of books to go around, so they were well read, and showed signs of wear and tear. I was working at the school as a volunteer and I would see the time that the librarian and the aides put in fixing the books up so they could still be used.
I’m not sure how much we spent, or how many years we did this project—20 years later it doesn’t really matter. I did a big craft show every year and I would take part of the money and head to the local bookstore with my daughters. I would give them a budget and they would pick out books for the library. They picked out books for all of the grade levels, and it was a blast to buy all of those books. When we got the books home, they used a rubber stamp and we tagged the books, we bought a new rubber stamp to use every year. They each then wrapped their books in Christmas wrapping paper and I would drop the books off at the school. The books were always from Santa and the bag of books was always dropped somewhere in the school for someone to find.
It was a secret that we kept. When they would bring home one of the books they had bought for the library home to read, it was a reminder to them, and to me, that even little kids can make a small difference. It’s been close to 20 years. I’m sure those books we bought have long since been retired–I hope all those kids learning to read wore out those books reading them.
It’s a cherished family memory. I believe that it instilled in my daughters the importance of giving back and making the world a better place. I’m proud of the women that they have grown to be. I’m sure they will forgive this 20 year old confession…I’m very proud of the little positive ripple we added to that tiny elementary school library.
….tis the season…