Thirteen-year-old Derreck Doan said his parents were
alarmed when they noticed him emptying the family bookshelf this
month and filling two large bags with books he'd read throughout his
The childhood, at least, from kindergarten to third grade.
They yelled at me two or three times,' the San Jose boy said. After
I explained the reason, they calmed down.'
Derreck was making a gift to other children, he told his parents.
The Gift of Reading.
I decided to donate the books because the kids we're donating to are
very poor. I had a lot of books I didn't need to read anymore.
For the past six years, students at Chaboya Middle School have been
gathering books and donations for the Gift of Reading, a Mercury
News project that takes new and gently used books and puts them in
the hands of children throughout Santa Clara, San Mateo and Alameda
counties who don't have a bookshelf like Derreck's to call their
Reading is important here. Each day, the entire school stops for 20
minutes after lunch for mandatory reading. Even the office staff
members put down their work and pick up a book.
Some kids re-read books, such as Louis Sachar's ``Holes,'' said
Vivian Hsu, 12, because they get to go back to the world created by
Scrounging for books
Young people are not only generous but creative in helping other
children have the opportunity to also have books at home.
Daniella Alvarez, another eighth-grader, scoured her house for money
-- you know, the kind you find beneath sofa cushions -- so that she
could buy lots of used books at the Capitol Flea Market.
Some titles she remembered reading when she was younger, such as one
of the popular ``Goosebumps'' series by R.L. Stine.
``They could laugh if they have a really funny book'' said Gurdeep
Pabla, 12, when he explained why he donated to the program. He was
thinking of books such as ``Al Capone Does My Shirts,'' by Gennifer
Last year, the Mercury News, with its partner, Kids in Common,
distributed more than 70,000 books to about 50,000 young readers.
Each language arts classroom at Chaboya has a big jar labeled
``Pennies for Literacy.'' Assistant Principal Leslye Lawler has
visited the coin counting machine in her local supermarket twice
already. They also get checks and paper money, too. Just before
Thanksgiving, Chaboya kids had topped $1,000 in donations. This
Thursday, Lawler said, the coin-counter will get its last workout.
When blessed, share
Certainly the kids at this school, set against the hillsides in the
Evergreen district, know they are blessed with plenty. Growth is the
operative word in this part of San Jose. The massive houses with
tile roofs and stone facades seem to have all sprung from the same
fancy stucco factory.
Jeremy Marques donated $25 of his birthday money. ``They don't have
much,'' he said. ``I have a lot.''
Jake Schafer, a seventh-grader who loves basketball and lacrosse,
donated $50. He's not a great reader himself, he said. When
eighth-grader Nick Sohm said he'd taken a month to re-read the first
Harry Potter book, Jake drew his breath. That would take me two
See, there was a reason for that donation, Jake's mother said. They
talked about it. Contributing to the Gift of Reading, she hopes,
will underscore her son's need to focus on reading a little more,
By L.A. Chung
Mercury News Columnist