I love thrift stores. Once a month, I choose one and treat myself to a long perusal of its shelves. I love
the excitement of not knowing what I may find. But I do know that having explored the rest of the store, I’ll always end up in the book section. Like all children’s authors, I can’t get enough of books.
And when that perfect award-winning book sits forlornly on the shelf, I buy it. How could I not? At thrift stores prices of a quarter for a paper-back, or two-for-a-dollar hard-covers, I’ve found true treasure. My own bookshelves, of course, are bursting. I can’t keep these books. But I’ve found a solution. I give the books away.
My thrift store treasures go into boxes. One box is for a small library in rural Indiana, a library my great-uncle helped build. At the start of each summer, I mail this library a box of books, from readers to middle grade, that they use as rewards for their summer reading program. Each year, I’ve gotten a card signed by all the kids in the program, and I’ve been thrilled to see the list of names get longer each year. It is because they are getting great quality books at the end of their program? I don’t know, but I can only hope…
The second box is harder, but moresatisfying. To fill this box, I need to find, on my thrift store adventures, twenty-four pristine, un-marked holiday books – books like The Polar Express or The Night Before Christmas. Typically, it takes a few years to fill this box. And when I’ve finally found the last one, I wrap each book and tag it with a number, 1-24. The collection becomes a magical advent gift for a special child, with a different book to unwrap and read each night on the count-down to Christmas.