Somewhere in the “nascent author” lifecycle I believe is the checkpoint where we become free/cheap book magnets. Call it Law of Attraction, call it “we believe in books.”
Writer/Author code means you do a cool/fun #kidsneedbooks Twitter or Instagram book giveaway to a teacher to parcel out to students with book deficits. I think it was Jarrett Lerner (Of Enginerds fame) who began the momentum. To say I admire Jarrett is an understatement – he uses his platform to mobilize for good and writes about farting robots.
All things being equal, #kidsneedbooks is amazing: Kids who ordinarily wouldn’t have access necessarily to libraries and such over the school breaks, are given books to keep. That isn’t just stories on paper, that’s a clear message to these kids that adults care about, believe in, and want to invest in them.
If also lived in a nice suburb of a major city literally crawling with amazing job opportunities (that’s jealousy, folks, not shade), I’d be running a cool giveaway too.
Except I don’t need to reach out to the web to find teachers who can be that bridge. My kids attend a Title 1 elementary (60-something % get free or reduced lunch) inexplicably located in a neighborhood where homes start at $450.
To be clear, payscale doesn’t support this area’s spiralling cost of living: Many FL employers like to chuckle that “We pay in sunshine (below the exec level that is)!” The flip side is some of my kids’ classmates are food insecure; and at least one family was homeless for a bit.
What, you don’t think that’s hilarious? Oh good; it isn’t just me.
While I was recovering from surgery, another set of parents from my son’s class and both my kids’ teachers reached out in support. They dried my kids’ tears, sent gift cards for takeout, and helped hurricane-prep our house when I couldn’t stand or hold a hammer.
Just having one person show they cared while many were extremely unkind, meant the world. There was a long time after my firing/blacklisting (due to my lengthy medical care) when my prospects of working in this town again didn’t look good. There are relationships I’ll never get back due to the fact that I was a drooling, bawling mess of an idiot rushing between medical appointments for months.
This year, with a tighter labor market, the local tech community appears to be beginning to forgive me for prioritizing health over my then-job. I’m grateful to be temping at an awesome company.
It just so happens I work 2 miles from the Scholastic Warehouse. 🤣💖📚 Talk about a sign for exactly how to pay kindness forward.
My kids’ teachers this year were both kind enough to give me lists along the lines of: “four kids will need books. One is a boy who reads early chapter books and likes aliens and farts…”
Per my terms, I don’t know the kids’ names and they don’t know mine. There’s a decent chance though at least one of these kids has teamed up with one of mine to prank the sub, participate in a belching contest, or giggle about the seventh planet from the sun – this is the stuff golden childhood memories are made of.
Doing something so personalized is probably not scalable but it was fun. And more important, it probably makes these kids feel seen and cared about.
Net net? However you get books to kids that need them, you’re fighting the good fight. Maybe you’re turning a future bank robber into a boring insurance salesman; maybe you’re turning a future insurance salesman into a brain surgeon; maybe you’re just making a kid’s life and empathy that much richer.
My seven mystery friends get their books today; please send them good vibes.
Here’s to summer reading 2019!
Summer 2019 update: Confidential to those teachers I work with, a partial list of books I have available is linked here. Text me for the password.