At my mom’s funeral, my cousin Robin asked if I would help her make a donation to the local school, Jefferson Elementary, in mom’s name. My mom had worked there for the last five years since moving to Monticello, and Robin wanted to give a gift that would be useful to students and teachers alike.
I wanted to contribute to this donation, especially after the school so beautifully dedicated their yearbook to Mom’s memory. After bouncing ideas around on Facebook, mom’s former co-worker and friend, Miss Vivian, and her best friend, Charlotte Nelson, suggested donating books for the kids to use.
My friend Katie owns my favorite store, The Bookshelf, in Thomasville, Georgia. I contacted her about purchasing gently used children’s books. She did not have any but offered me a very generous discount on both clearance and newly stocked selections. I only mention this, because I was so touched by her kindness.
Reading was so important to my mom. She was only 18 when she had me but, thanks to her time and attention, I was a skilled reader by age four. She read voraciously and, although we did not always have the same tastes, I learned from her the pure enjoyment of a good book.
My mom also loved children. She was notorious for having multiple bags which she would carry around, including to work. Without fail, at least one children’s book would be stuffed in each. I kid you not, I am still finding bags and books as I sort through her belongings.
When I was pregnant with the kids, she helped me pick out special selections for their individual libraries. She loved the author Max Lucado and the story Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault. And there is one she thought was adorable called I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt. I remember her reading that story to my niece Peyton all the time.
So I tried to fill the basket up with Mom’s favorites ~ all new books with a personalized label inside.
Of course I had to include Charlotte’s Web.
I hope these books are cherished and loved by all the children who use them. Reading is such powerful legacy to leave and, for 20 years, my mom worked gently but fervently with young students to encourage them to broaden their minds. Her vast impact cannot be measured but I hope it continues as students open the pages of these classic and inspiring tales.
Thank you, Robin and Joe Latham, for making this donation possible.