Thoughts from a Book Fair First-Timer

 2017 Book Fair Volunteers

 2017 Book Fair volunteers at Seward Montessori 


“Happiness is not a feeling these kids get to feel often enough,” said Mr. May as we tried to calm his excited 1st graders after the book fair. As I smiled and nodded and he went back to shhh’ing his class, his words sunk in and weighed on my heart.

Giving out books in Minneapolis’ poorest schools, I saw glimpses of kids who definitely needed more happiness in their lives.  Day after day, I was humbled by the opportunity to provide even just a little bright spot in their day – in the form of 10 new books.

For any of you who have volunteered at our book fairs, you know what I’m talking about. The energy at the books fairs is almost a physical thing – you can feel it in the air and the kids exude positivity as they scan the shelves. 

They excitedly chatter with friends, debate which “Captain Underpants” is the best, and watch in awe as we scan each book. When I’d ask for their “payment,” they’d briefly look nervous and then proudly hand over their book voucher. 

Working the registers, while hectic, was one of my favorite parts of the book fairs. I interacted with so many grateful first and second graders, and they were so proud to pay for their books. Some of the most memorable kids were the ones who bought numerous titles for their sisters, brothers or cousins. What great kids! To see this excitement over books and their willingness to share … my book-loving heart nearly exploded with happiness. I left each fair with a sense of hope and appreciation to be a part of something so simply meaningful.

So whether you’re a fellow bookworm, parent, mentor, budding philanthropist or … a human, I highly recommend Start Reading Now’s volunteer experience. If I learned anything, it was this - if you want to feel happy, find a way to make others feel happy. And giving away books is a great place to start.


- Lauren

Program Lead
Start Reading Now