Happy new year to all books lovers around the world!
2014 has been an exciting adventure for Kids Books Without Borders. The year started off with a hiatus. I spent 5 months in Oxford, England while my husband, Tim, was on sabbatical from Indiana University, doing research at Oxford University. Tim and I and our youngest daughter, Lindsay, settled into Oxford life. As a book lover and collector, I especially enjoyed perusing all the used bookstores and thrift shops (called charity shops) there. I returned with several large boxes and a suitcase full of books to add to my Kids Books Without Borders collection. I was especially thrilled when I would come across extra copies of Dogger by Shirley Hughes, in a charity shop for 50 pence. I returned to the US with multiple copies to share with you. I love her illustrations, and the word I would use to describe this story is “heartwarming”, an often overused word, but for this story, there is no better word. The illustrations depict the ordinary British family, complete with messy house, disheveled-morning personal look, and sibling rivalry. But Dogger also depicts ordinary, everyday love and sacrifice that siblings make for one another. It’s a book every home library should have on its shelf (in my opinion ☺).
This summer, after returning to Indiana, unpacking and getting settled again, I added many new titles to my LibraryThing database and began to reorganize the books in preparation for sending out books again. In the fall, an old friend and fellow MK, Marilyn Gardner, shared about my book ministry on her website, communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com. A day later, my email inbox was exploding with requests. I turned the corner from being known only by friends or word of mouth to going viral. Word began spreading from blogs, facebook pages, even bulletin boards at language schools. Thank you, Marilyn, and thank you to everyone who not only ordered books but shared about Kids Books Without Borders with friends and on websites.
In mid-October through the end of December, I received over 60 inquiries and sent out over 1000 books to 37 different families in over 20 different countries all over the world, including families in Africa, Central and South America, Haiti, Western and Eastern Europe, and Asia.
One other unexpected aspect of this ministry that I’ve enjoyed is making friends with so many of you, from all around the world, who love children’s books and reading as much as I do: hearing your stories of travels, family life, your children’s favorite books and love of reading. It’s fun when I’m in a thrift store or at a book sale and I come across a book that you have requested or one that I know you and your children would enjoy. I’m beginning to know you all by name and learning about your children’s interests and reading history. Thank you for sharing your lives with me! Keep those emails and stories coming. It makes my day!
Finally, I can’t close this post without thanking all those of you out there both from my local community and beyond who have donated books or contributed towards shipping costs. This has been a huge encouragement to me. God has surprised me multiple times with gifts of books from total strangers who want to support this ministry: these include a young teacher working in the inner city of LA who sent me some great books to share with you and, recently, a woman who collects children’s books who wants to donate books to a worthy cause. I have also received generous donations of books from Christian children’s authors, including Lisa Bergren and Max Lucado. I couldn’t do this ministry without all your help and I am grateful for encouraging words and donations. I’m also thankful to my son, Brian, who put a website together for me and continues to be my tech support and my husband, Tim, my biggest supporter (he is my proofreader for my blog posts and puts up with all the piles of books and our growing collection of books taking over our basement, boxes filling the garage and piles of books on counters and tables everywhere 😊).
On a final note, many of you have shared your favorite books or requested certain titles. As a result, my list of great books to read and look for has grown. I learned about new classics such as The Happy Hollisters by Jerry West, The Little Britches series by Ralph Moody, and The Little Maid series by Alice Turner Curtis, a series for early readers called Geronimo Stilton, and picture books for little ones, such as The Bear That Heard Crying by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock and Helen Kinsey. I’ve also explored the world of multicultural books, including books featuring African-American and African main characters at the behest of families living in Ethiopia or Haiti. Keep those requests and recommendations coming – I’m learning so much from you as well.
At this year’s end, I am grateful to God and to all of you.
I enjoy having families order multiple times, as it indicates that your children are enjoying the books and need more, which is why I do this.
Also, I will continue to post on this blog about favorite children’s books, my life, my childhood and any new developments so I encourage you, if you are interested, to follow my blog and leave your comments and responses.
As an encouragement to all parents: This is a photo of our college-age daughter, Laura, sitting on the counter, reading, while stirring her morning oatmeal during the Christmas break. The love of reading is a special gift that you give to your children that will stay with them as they grow!