What better place to promote literacy than a bookstore?
Westport's Barnes & Noble showed support over the weekend for getting books in the hands of as many people as possible. Along with hosting a book fair to benefit First Book Fairfield County, a nonprofit that promotes literacy, the store has also begun collecting book donations for distribution to several local groups that give the texts to kids who might not otherwise have access to reading materials.
"Our goal is to get 3,000 books," said Tricia Tierney, community relations manager for the Barnes & Noble store. Once the collection concludes, Tierney, who serves on First Book's local board, will box up the books and distribute them to groups, mostly in Bridgeport and Norwalk, that will pass them on to children. Among those are the JFK Lighthouse Program, Bridgeport School Volunteers, Carver Center, Roosevelt Family Resource Center and Choice for Success.
"The idea is that they're getting a little library," she said.
"I'm really passionate about this program Tricia's involved in," said Kathie Bannon, Barnes & Noble's new Westport store manager. "Everybody here is really, really revved up about it and we anticipate a wonderful contribution."
"I think it's really, really important that kids acquire early literacy skills," said Melanie Myers of Southport, who came out to support the effort with purchases. "It's part of what helps them be successful, and any way I can help that is important."
Myers said it was also a good lesson for all children to recognize how lucky they are to have books, and the resources to acquire them.
"This kind of thing brings awareness to kids in our area," she said.
Local author Tommy Greenwald showed support for the event by appearing Saturday to sign copies of his latest book, "Jack Strong Takes a Stand." Several dozens people came out to hear Greenwald and his college-age son Charlie stage a mini "debate" about some of their experiences about "over-scheduling" Charlie's life -- the theme of the book.
"What's the line between keeping your kid active and not letting them be a kid?" Greenwald asked, explaining that his children's book frames the serious issue in a light context.
Greenwald and his son, for instance, had differing opinions on a variety of topics, including video games.
"My dad would come home and see us (playing) and pull the cord out of the wall," Charlie said.
"I would always tell my dad that there were tremendous benefits to playing video games," the younger Greenwald said, such as bringing him closer to his siblings and developing hand-eye coordination.
"When I look back on it," Tommy Greenwald said he should have allowed his son more latitude with his time. "When I was writing this book, it helped me understand there were times when you should let them lie around and do nothing."