Book Harvest’s first book will forever be etched in my mind.
It was a chilly winter day in 2011. I was feeling a bit nervous, not really sure what I was doing. I entered the waiting room of the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service in Carrboro, NC, lugging in a bookshelf and grocery bags full of donated books. I began stocking the shelf – the very first Book Harvest community bookshelf, at a time when Book Harvest barely had a name.
Among those in the waiting room was a young boy, maybe age three, squirming in his mom’s lap and watching me intently. When I smiled at him and invited him to join me, he hopped down and made a beeline for an oversized board book with big, brightly colored trucks on the front.
He plopped down next to me and began making the kinds of sounds trucks make. His vrooming and screeching made the adults in the room chuckle. I showed him that the book had flaps we could open, tabs we could slide, ways to discover cool things lurking in tankers and on flatbeds and in cherry pickers. Sitting cross-legged together on the floor, we lost ourselves in the hidden treasures that these trucks revealed across eight indestructible shiny pages.
When we turned the final page, I told his mom he was welcome to take that book and any others he wanted. He instantly piled up seven other books, decisively curated in the way that only a young child can.
The last I saw of that little boy, he was swaggering proudly beside his mom as they were called to their appointment, his arms wrapped resolutely around his new treasures. Large though his load was for someone his size, he firmly rejected any offer of help to carry them. An older man in the room commented, “Look out, world!” Everyone laughed. Everyone understood. In that moment, that little boy was powerful.
From that day, when the very first Book Harvest book was harvested by a child, there has been no turning back.
On October 1st – yesterday – we at Book Harvest began our official countdown to the biggest milestone in our seven-year history: sometime this fall, we will provide our 1,000,000th book to a child.
As we count down to this momentous day, I think back to that boy, who must now be about 10 and who I hope is still an avid book lover. He was one in a million to me – selecting that truck book as the first in a million books – and reminding me that every child, every book, is one in a million.
During this “Year of the Millionth Book,” we celebrate all the books filling bedside tables of young readers. I am proud, and I am humbled by the generous heroes who have propelled us to this point — from book donors to book drive captains to volunteers to funders to parents and caregivers who bring stories to life and spark eager young imaginations.
If you are reading this, you are likely one of these heroes. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Please join me and Book Harvest as we count down toward our one millionth book, every bit as special as that very first truck book and all the books in between. And please join us as we begin the march toward our second million. There is so much work yet to do. We are inspired. We are ready!
With love and gratitude and hope,