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By Kristen Prelipp-Oguntoyinbo

Harvesting Books on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

By Kristen Prelipp-Oguntoyinbo Posted January 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Last week I was keeping my ears and eyes open for a great photo story to tell and happened to hear about a wonderful organization called Book Harvest. The founder of Book Harvest, Ginger Young, was being interviewed on WCHL by Ron Stutts about their MLK Day Book Drive. This organization, which is only one-year-old, has successfully collected and distributed 35,000 books to low-income children in its first year alone.


Suzanne DeConto, an Americorp volunteer, reads a book to Sophie O’Malley and Lila Ashdown, both four-years-old, at Book Harvest’s book drive at Flyleaf Books on Monday, January 16, 2012.

Why Books?
Several studies have shown that the biggest predictor of academic success for children is the presence of books at home. More so than other factors, such as parents’ education levels, income or geographic location, reading books prepares a child for success by teaching language acquisition. Just 15 minutes of reading before bedtime exposes a child to millions of words per year.

The Problem
Studies have also shown that there is a startling difference in rates of book ownership among low-income and higher-income children. These studies showed that above 50% of low-income children owned no books at all. Ginger Young and her army of loyal, hardworking volunteers are hoping to change that.

I met with Robin Sheedy, one of these volunteers, last week. She was on the schedule to pick up donated books and distribute them to the Interfaith Council for Social Service and the Carrboro Community Health Center. She patiently reorganized the bookshelf as she added new books. The idea is that the children should choose books that pique their interest. As they eagerly read these books they will begin to view themselves as readers. The hope is that they build home libraries that the whole family can use.

A Tribute to MLK
Martin Luther King, Jr. came from a family that valued education and books. His early involvement with books predicted that he would succeed in school, which he did as he held a doctorate in philosophy from Boston University. In his words:

All I’m saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we’re caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Matt Phillips and the Philharmonics came all the way from Greenville to support Book Harvest. Here they sang, “Happy Birthday,” to Book Harvest and to Martin Luther King, Jr.
Matt Phillips and the Philharmonics came all the way from Greenville to support Book Harvest. Here they sang, “Happy Birthday,” to Book Harvest and to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Christine Woolford and Danielle Faerber were on hand to help sort books.
Christine Woolford and Danielle Faerber were on hand to help sort books.

Leon Carter and Deb Wong, were among the 40 Americorp volunteers that helped to keep Monday’s event running smoothly.
Leon Carter and Deb Wong, were among the 40 Americorp volunteers that helped to keep Monday’s event running smoothly.

Left, Ginger Young addresses the crowd. Right, Sarah Carr reads a book about Dr. King.
Left, Ginger Young addresses the crowd. Right, Sarah Carr reads a book about Dr. King.


From left to right, Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton, Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, Book Harvest founder Ginger Young, author Daniel Wallace and Minister Robert Campbell spoke to the crowd about the value of books and Dr. King’s legacy of service.

How to Get Involved
Supporting Book Harvest is easy. You can donate a life-changing book at many area locations. Or you can donate money . If you are really inspired you can become a Book Harvest volunteer or run a book drive of your own. It is easy! I had 12 children coming over this past weekend for my son’s birthday party and asked the parents to bring any gently used books they did not want. Many did and we were able to donate many bags of books on Monday. Talk about an easy way of spreading a love of learning!

Comments or questions? Please write to me at kpophoto@chapelboro.com.

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