Book boxes an op­por­tu­nity to share the joy of read­ing

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - FRONT PAGE - EMMA MELDRUM

The grass in front of Gil­lies Lake’s Great Book Box is al­ready a lit­tle worn and tram­pled.

The small, bright box was in­stalled less than a week ago, but it’s clear from my van­tage point – a bench a few feet away – that passers-by have been cu­ri­ous enough to step up to the minia­ture Hollinger House.

I spent just un­der an hour watch­ing peo­ple watch the box on Satur­day af­ter­noon. The sun was shin­ing, the box was full, and I wanted to know: Would any­one stop?

It turned out that most were cu­ri­ous, but few opted to step onto the brown­ing grass and up to the box.

“I love that idea,” said a woman to her friend as they walked their dogs.

They didn’t stop to check the con­tents, though the red-painted box was brim­ming with mys­ter­ies as well as some re­li­gious texts and a sin­gle chil­dren’s book, ti­tled “Where Do Pud­dles Go?”

It isn’t pos­si­ble to drive di­rectly to the Great Book Box – it isn’t next to ei­ther park­ing lot – mak­ing it seem as though it was in­stalled to en­cour­age both read­ing and ex­er­cise.

Luck­ily for me, it’s just a short walk from my car, which I left by the park on Toke Street. I had a big bag of books to do­nate, all pil­fered from a friend look­ing to clear out her col­lec­tion.

I re­sisted the urge to or­ga­nize them al­pha­bet­i­cally, in­stead strate­gi­cally pil­ing them in so peo­ple can see as many ti­tles as pos­si­ble – if they ever open the door.

“Is that a bird­house,” a child asks her dad.

She, too, walks past with­out stop­ping.

If she had taken a closer look, she would have found a greet­ing in French, English and Cree which in­vites peo­ple to “Take, do­nate and share a book.”

So far, there doesn’t seem to be much doubt as to whether peo­ple will con­trib­ute to the boxes – the Schu­macher lo­ca­tion is chock­full, too. That one, built to look like the Mcin­tyre Head­frame, is at the statue park on Fa­ther Costello Drive.

At both lo­ca­tions I vis­ited, English-lan­guage books dom­i­nated, and chil­dren’s books were rare. I won­dered if that’s be­cause they’ve been picked up al­ready, or whether none have been shared yet.

Mean­while, two kids run by me at Gil­lies Lake, cran­ing their necks to check out the box, but not slow­ing their pace.

The idea be­hind the whole project, which was an­nounced in June, is to foster a love of read­ing, and a bunch of lo­cal groups sup­ported it: the Por­cu­pine Book Club, Tim­mins High & Vo­ca­tional School, the Por­cu­pine Art Club, the Tim­mins Na­tive Friend­ship Cen­tre and the Tim­mins Pub­lic Li­brary.

The hope is that the take-one-leave-one sys­tem will mean there is al­ways some­thing in­side the three boxes (there’s an­other at Ban­ner­man Park in Por­cu­pine).

Each lo­ca­tion has a ste­ward who lives nearby to watch over it.

my self-im­posed role as vol­un­tary ste­ward is com­ing to an end on satur­day when the young run­ners come back with their par­ents, their arms full of books.

alexis and niko­las bar­b­uto, aged 11 and nine, have brought ex­actly what the box lacked: chil­dren’s books in english and French.

i imag­ine they’ll be back – if only to run past again. i know i’ll be back, too, re­sist­ing the urge to al­pha­bet­ize, and dig­ging through the box again to see if there’s a per­fect week­end read wait­ing to be taken home.

Emma meldrum/tim­mins Daily Press/post­media net­work

Alexis Bar­b­uto and her brother Niko­las, who are 11 and nine, stopped by the Great Book Box at Gil­lies Lake on Satur­day to share some of their books. There are now three boxes in­stalled, with one in Schu­macher and an­other in Por­cu­pine.

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