Celebrating Summer Learning in Oklahoma City

I spend a lot of time here at First Book in Washington D.C. talking with our Recipient Groups about how to receive books, but last week I was able to experience the thrill of providing books to the children that need them most first-hand! Early Sunday morning, I packed up my laptop and left the humid heat of Washington, D.C. for the humid heat of Oklahoma City to distribute 330,000books as part of National Summer Learning Day with the help of our fantastic partners at Disney Publishing Worldwide and Feed the Children!

Upon landing in Oklahoma, Erin Carlstrom from Feed the Children met Larry, Mitali, Rachael and myself and whisked us off to local Oklahoma City schools to help prepare for reading events which took place on June 21st, National Summer Learning Day.

The next day we had a busy schedule driving throughout Oklahoma City hosting events at three local schools. These events went off without a hitch thanks to help from the Oklahoma City Fire Department, Sheriff’s office, staff from the Lieutenant Governor’s office, Feed the Children, and local Reach out and Read employees.  We spent the day discussing the importance of summer reading, our favorite places to read in the hot summer, our favorite books to read over and over by the pool – and then surprised the kids with books for them to take home and read all summer long!  We even got to host a very special reading event featuring Oklahoma 2010 Book Award winner Tammi Sauer, who read, danced, and sang her book Chicken Dance to a group of elementary school children – all of whom then received a signed copy!

The next few days were spent in the warehouse, where we labeled, sorted, and shipped the rest of the 330,000 books that our partners donated to us. Groups that picked up books were ecstatic and some had driven as far as Colorado and Texas!  The days were long, and hot, with temperatures reaching as high as 110 degrees in the warehouse, but we had high spirits, great help from our volunteers at Pi Beta Phi and the Junior League of Oklahoma, and a great mission – providing books to the kids who need them most to enjoy all summer, and for many summers to come.  The experience went by quickly, and while it was nice to get back into the air conditioned office, the impact we felt we had made in Oklahoma and beyond made the heat worthwhile.