DURHAM — “I was that child who always had my nose in a book growing up,” recalled Ann Leininger, the chair of Book Harvest’s Dream Big Book Drive. “My mom had to hide my Nancy Drew books so I would actually do my homework.”
It is from her childhood love of books that Ann’s belief that “every child deserves to be surrounded by books and find joy in reading” was born.
Monday, readers across the Triangle are invited to help make the big dream of books for every child move closer to reality, by joining Book Harvest for Dream Big. Dream Big will take place at Durham Central Park, 501 Foster Street, on the afternoon of Martin Luther King Day. Community members are encouraged to bring their donations of new and gently used children’s books to Durham Central Park between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. that day, and to celebrate King’s birthday by joining in service with hundreds of Book Harvest volunteers and more than three dozen members of the North Carolina Literacy Corps.
Master of Ceremonies Tisha Powell of WTVD/ABC-11 will kick off the festivities at 1 p.m., after an energetic warm-up performance by the Bouncing Bulldogs at 12:45 p.m. The event will also feature special guest mascots Wool E. Bull, Read-a-Roo and Ranger Baldy; musical performances by Matt Phillips and Tiny House; Captain Cookie and the Milk Man food truck and Larry’s Coffee; the Scrap Exchange; and a photo booth. More than 240 Book Harvest volunteers will staff the event, running a giant book sort with the children’s books that are donated that day.
Dream Big, a high-energy, family-friendly celebration, is now in its sixth year; it is the largest single book drive in our area and has brought in more than 114,000 books since it kicked off on MLK Day 2012.
More than 50 schools, neighborhoods, workplaces, places of worship, book clubs and civic groups have signed up to collect books in advance of Dream Big 2017, culminating with the delivery of their donated books to Durham Central Park during tomorrow’s Dream Big celebration. NC Literacy Corps volunteers will be stationed at the curb to receive donations for those who cannot stay for the festivities.
“Book Harvest places an average of 3,200 books into the hands and homes of local young readers every week,” said Book Harvest’s founder and executive director Ginger Young. “Over the past six years, more than 530,000 Book Harvest books have found their way into the homes of local children. Dream Big is vital to our ability to help our community’s children grow up in book-rich homes; every book that is donated will help meet the need. This magical event gives us all an opportunity to honor Dr. King’s legacy and to serve by sharing the joy of owning books.”
More than 60 local businesses and civic organizations have signed on to sponsor the 2017 event, raising $62,000 in support of Book Harvest’s mission. Presenting sponsors this year are Duke University Libraries, for the third year in a row, and Johnson Lexus.
The need does not end Monday: Book Harvest encourages community members to run book drives year-round. A book drive toolkit of collection bin signs, posters, and template language for emails and listservs is available on the Book Harvest website, www.bookharvestnc.org. Groups planning to run book drives are encouraged to sign up at bookharvestnc.org/support/run-a-book-drive/.