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The gift of reading

These are some of the 140 books that were delivered to Elmcrest's youth residents as part of the Holiday Book Fair.

Holiday Book Fair returns

Elmcrest’s Holiday Book Fair is usually a festive occasion: Youth residents sip hot cocoa while browsing shelves of books. They get to keep the two books that interest them most.

Young volunteers assemble custom goodie bags, each of which contains two books requested by each youth resident.

“They like the holiday decorations and music, and they like just looking through the books until they find the ones they really want,” said Elmcrest Literacy Specialist Teresa Golembiewski, who organizes the annual book fair. “It’s just a great atmosphere.”

The pandemic made such gatherings impossible this year, but Teresa was determined to keep the tradition alive. She created an online catalog of all the books available – complete with book descriptions and cover photos. The children were able to select their favorites and
Teresa did her best to accommodate their wishes.

With help from several youths, she created 70 personalized goodie bags, each with two books, a bookmark, candy canes, hot cocoa packs with a cup, a reading challenge sheet and a poem. Maintaining social distance, they delivered the bags to each youth residence, which distributed them to the youth.

This year’s book fair didn’t have much ambiance, Teresa said, but it retained the most important part: the children got to select and keep books that interest them most.

“If you’re picking out your own books, you have more appreciation for them,” Teresa said. “They miss the book fair, but they were still very grateful.”