#448 Brain candy for treats

Kindergarten children reading

Kindergarten children reading at Safinatun Najah Montessori Kindergaten, photo by amrufm, via Flickr Creative Commons

If your kids ring Rebecca Morgan’s door on Halloween, they’ll score a book instead of candy. She has been handing out books since 1995. Her modest idea, to offer something besides candy, has become an international movement.

It started as a way to give something better than candy as Halloween treats. At a library book sale she hit on the idea. She could buy used children’s books for about the same price as candy and give them out instead.

The thought came naturally to the best-selling author of business books. She bought the books, sorted them into age levels, and put them in boxes so kids could choose their own.

The idea turned out to be a hit. So in 2001 she started a non-profit she called Books for Treats. Her slogan was, “Feed kids’ minds, not their cavities.”

Morgan wanted her good idea to spread so in 2009 she contacted Greg Evans, the cartoonist who creates the popular “Luann” comic strip. She suggested he have Luann give out books for Halloween treats.

When you see the strips he created, you can see why they rocketed Books for Treats to a whole new level. Media and bloggers featured Morgan’s idea. She created a toolkit for communities and individuals wanting to start their own giveaway.

For someone wanting to embrace the idea, finding inexpensive books is not a problem. There are plenty of places to acquire good, gently used books, including library book sales, garage sales and friends whose children have grown.

Now there’s even a Books for Treats Canada. I just learned via their Twitter stream there’ll be a book giveaway in Penticton, just south of my home in Kelowna, British Columbia)

With obesity and diet-related diseases raging around the globe, the annual candy spree is an idea that needs to be re-thought. But aside from that, the idea of giving out books to children is just too delicious not to embrace it.

In 2011 the National Confectioners’ Association estimated Americans would be spending $2.3 billion on Halloween candy sales. That’s a lot of sugar being poured into small bodies.

Imagine pouring those dollars into books instead. Now there’s an idea that gives me hope.

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Frank Woodman - October 7, 2012

The amazing world of books is a wonderful thing to share with a child. And by sharing it you help them to open the world of imagination and knowledge in a way nothing else can do it. Lets hope that we don’t let books and reading be replaced by technology and gimmicks. So remember when you share a book you transform a child’s world.

    admin - October 7, 2012

    You are so right, Frank. Books weave themselves through every day of my life, from childhood onward. I am a fan of e-readers and have shared e-books with grandchildren. So I’m OK with whatever technology approach leads children into words. And I am thrilled my grandchildren LOVE books, in any form or format.

Rebecca Morgan - August 10, 2014

Thanks so much for featuring Books For Treats! Yes, we are growing each year across No. America. Anyone interested can download the free kit which gives you tips on how to do this in your community or neighborhood.

    Cathryn Wellner - August 11, 2014

    This is such a brilliant idea, Rebecca. May it continue to grow and thrive and encourage reading and literacy.

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