VISTA, Calif. — Reading is one of life's greatest skills and joys, but we all needed a nudge to get going. In this Zevely Zone, I went to a book drive in Vista with my favorite librarian of all time, my mother.
"Alright, is everybody ready to get some free books?" said staff members at Foothill Oak Elementary.
This was the day thousands of children at four schools in Vista, Oceanside, and Carlsbad were taking home brand new books for free.
"We were absolutely amazed," said Fran Tovar from the Assistance League of North Coast.
Fran never dreamed the nonprofit organization's book drive would have this happy of an ending.
"I am a retired teacher so anytime a child gets to read, it makes me so happy," said Fran.
Barnes and Noble Oceanside pitched in by asking their customers for help.
"We are asking them if they would like to donate to the Assistance League of North Coast because they give those books to kids that are most in need in North County," said Melissa Carlysle from Barnes and Noble.
Melissa said nearly 2,000 books were going to be given away until her store doubled the donation - something she's quite modest about.
"We try to make sure they are not coming up short," said Melissa laughing.
I visited Foothill Oak Elementary for the giveaway and you could read my excitement. In honor of the big day, I brought my favorite librarian of all time, my mother. For 10 years, my mom Sandy Stevens, drove all over the county in the Mobile Media Van for the San Diego County Office of Education reading books to kids and entertaining them with puppet shows.
My mom introduced students to famous authors like Sid Fleischman, Clyde Robert Bulla, Judy Blume and so many more.
"This is 'Where the Red Fern Grows.' [The author] Wilson Rawls came to the county office once," said my mom.
Just the sight of children lining up to read made my mother say, "It makes my heart swell. I almost want to cry because it's just beautiful that these kids want a book, need a book and can take a book home."
"I used to read this to you," said Sandy while picking a copy of the kid classic "Goodnight Moon."
Now, thanks to the Assistance League, a new generation of readers are discovering the power of getting lost in a book.
"Some are really exciting. You don't get to see the story but you get to imagine it yourself," said Jim who is a 10-year-old student reading at a 7th-grade level.
"This is just such a happy occasion for all of us and we'll have smiles that will not go away for a long time," said Fran.
All the kids held up a book and said, "Thank you!"
The Assistance League of North Coast has 190 members and they're always looking for new volunteers. For information go to https://alnc.org/