-posted by Meghan
I got to go to this amazing charity event last weekend for an LA based group called Milk & Bookies. We’re big into book charities (obviously), and I’d heard of them before, seeing the tables at the LA Times Festival of Books, and places like that. I just have focused my book giving into my immediate circle of family, friends, donating used books, and raising funds for the kids’ school library. But this charity event really put Milk & Bookies on my radar, and I think it should be on yours. Here’s why.
I love that their goal is two-fold: to get books in the hands of kids that need them, but also to inspires kids to give, and use books as the “currency” of their giving. Six years old is also a fabulous time to introduce this concept to kids. (Not that it’s ever too soon or too late, but still, this is the perfect time!) If six-year-oldness can be extrapolated from the two examples I live with (and I’m going to do just that, as they are very opposite little people, who behave the same way when it comes to charity), it’s a set of opposing values. They are unfailingly generous and warm hearted, wanting to give money and bursting into tears at the idea of hungry and homeless people; they are also rather myopic and selfish, thinking the world begins, ends, and revolves around themselves. So I loved the idea of books as “currency”, and as a way to explain people going without, and also a way to teach them to give. And love giving.
I can tell you more about the cool charity event – wait, I’ll do that with pictures:
There were celebrity readers (Julie Bowen was our favorite, a little because she read Elephant & Piggie, but mostly because she clearly has young kids and knew how to read to them!).
There were awesome arts and crafts, all made out of recycled books.
There were characters meeting and reading to the kids (Tinkerbell was the only one Molly would pose with, but Max from Where the Wild Things Are was their #1 favorite.)
Of course there were milk & cookies everywhere (best way to get a kid to love you!).
Everything was bookie, even the decor. Like this giant bear, made of old books.
BUT, the best thing was the emphasis on giving. With all that going on, Molly & Jacob’s favorite activity was the “donate” room. It was brilliant – a room filled with books that you could pick out, create a bookplate for:
And then donate it to kids who need books by putting it in a big blue box. Then you could ding a big bell and everyone would clap for you. Then you got a sticker, which Jacob was inordinately proud of:
And I, in turn, was crazy stupid proud of them (and grateful to Milk & Bookies for inspiring them and me) when we drove home and I asked them their favorite part of the day, and they chorused, without thought: “Donating books!” (That won out over unlimited cookies, which I had thought impossible.)
So, Milk & Bookies reminded me how important it is to give books, not only to those we know, but also to those we don’t. And also how important it is to instill a love of giving in our kids. And they inspired me to make a Milk & Bookies drive one of our goals for the year – hosting one at our home, or school, and implementing all the tricks I learned at the charity event. I hope it’s inspired you, too. (Here’s where you can learn how to host one at your home or school, too.)
One last thing. Milk & Bookies also instituted a new award this year, the Bookies Bravo Award to books that reinforce the message of giving. The first recipient of the Bookies Bravo Award is Mimi & Maty to the Rescue! by Brooke Smith, illustrated by Alli Arnold.
They gave us a copy, which we came home and read. And loved. It also came with a notebook, which makes sense when you read the book, and Jacob began writing in it right away. The book is wonderful for kids (the pictures and notebook entries make it fun for them visually), perfect for the learning to read crew, but also a fun read aloud. It makes the point of helping others (animals, in this case) without preaching or batting you on the head, even the tiniest bit. Molly & Jacob were both inspired to become animal rescuers, and it also inspired another great giving idea – we had a birthday party to get a gift for, and they agreed instantly that this book is a perfect gift. Don’t skip the “about the author” pages at the end – the book was written by the real Mimi’s mom, and they are both wonderful inspirations in giving.
(The photo to the right is Jacob, writing in his Mimi & Maty notebook.)