Maxine Durst estimates that Altrusa International of Roseburg will give away nearly 10,000 children’s books this February for the Celebration of Literacy.
Durst has been a part of the annual celebration since it started 19 years ago. Throughout the years the events have changed, but the message has stayed the same: instilling a love of reading in the younger generation.
The theme for this year’s Celebration of Literacy is “Reading Around the World,” which will be celebrated at each library in Douglas County.
The first event will be at noon Saturday at the Canyonville Community Library, and library events will continue for the next week. The final event in the Celebration of Literacy will be the Battle of the Books on March 7 at Brockway Elementary School in Winston.
All libraries in Douglas County will host their own event where they’ll focus on a specific country. Canyonville will focus on England, Glendale on Colombia, Winston on Mexico, Roseburg on Japan, Myrtle Creek on Scotland, Sutherlin on Thailand, Oakland on Australia, Riddle on Ghana, Yoncalla on Ethiopia, and North Douglas on India.
“They came up with the idea that instead of trying to encompass the whole world, they would each do one country,” Durst said. “The thing that amazes me is, when you look at it, how all over the world they are. I was surprised at Ethiopia and Ghana, those are not countries I would’ve thought of.”
Rita Radford from the Riddle Library said she found a story she liked from Ghana and decided to shape the event around it, which will include giving children the opportunity to sample eating some crispy crickets.
Not every library will have snacks, but all will have activities from the country they focus on.
Children get a passport and will receive a stamp for each library they visit in Douglas County, including school libraries. If a child has two or more stamps, they can receive a book at the Reading Fair on Feb. 22.
The Reading Fair is the organization’s signature event at the exhibit building of the Douglas County Fairground, where local organizations and businesses come together to celebrate reading and literacy.
Other events open to the public are the Wildlife Safari Book Drive and Movie Night at Roseburg Cinema. During the book drive, children will receive free admission to the drive-thru if they donate a new or gently used book. Students who bring in their reading list to the movie theater on Feb. 18 will be able to watch Rio 2 for free.
There are also a few events that are not open to the public, such as Valentines for Vets on Feb. 11 when members of the Boys & Girls Club of the Umpqua Valley make valentines for veterans at the Roseburg VA Medical Center.
Fullerton IV, Hucrest, Glide, Eastwood, Yoncalla, Days Creek, Lookingglass, Sunnyslope, Fir Grove, Melrose and homeschooled students will also have the opportunity to see the Roseburg High School Literacy Play, which is written, directed and performed by students in the advanced drama class.
“It was absolutely fantastic last year, I’m hoping for the same this year,” Durst said.
In addition to books being handed out at nearly every event, there will also be a book give-away at most food pantries.
“Not only are the kids absorbing their experience about literacy, but they’re also having an opportunity to do more reading,” Durst said. “We hear parents say that the books that we give away are the things that start their family libraries, their home libraries.”
If you would like to donate new or gently used children’s books, contact Mary Marshall at 541-672-2285.