There's no getting around it: it's the Halloween season. What used to be a time to honor the ancestors has become a celebration of the willies and a chance to gorge on candy (as if Americans needed another opportunity like that!).
With all of that at the front of my mind, I was thrilled to find out about the organization Books For Treats. Founded and run by Rebecca Morgan in San José, California, it replaces candy with books! Passing out literature instead of sweets! Substituting cavities and obesity for literacy!
Now, I have the world's biggest sweet tooth -- always have. I remember being cynical when a teacher talked about giving a "treat" to the class and it turned out be a visit from the music teacher or something else non-candy. But, reimagining my childhood trick-or-treat ventures, I know how amazing it would have been to receive an age-appropriate picture or story book instead of that fistful of Dum-Dums. The website gives examples of child feedback, and it's very positive. Let's face it: finding books and making sure they're suitable for the particular child who comes to your door takes a lot more attention and care than grabbing a bag of candy at the grocery store, and children will perceive that qualitative difference.
The site also links to similar organizations in Texas and Iowa and great ideas for where you can get inexpensive kids' books, as well as guidelines for deciding what to give to whom. Check it out!
I highly doubt we will get any trick-or-treaters where we live, so when I heard about Books For Treats, I donated some 28 children's books via priority mail, and I hope they get there in time to be used this year. Most of the books were children's picture books in Spanish, which I have used with some success in the language classroom. Two volumes were The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Magician's Nephew, fabulous books I bought to read to my husband, who didn't do much reading as a child. (The couple that reads to each other, stays together!) Even if they can't be used this year, the books will still be fresh for the 2011 round. Really good children's books never get old.
Coming soon: Interviews with authors Angela Townsend and Barbara Briggs Ward! Musings on web site issues! Stay tuned!