Making Books Come to Life

It was a little difficult to get the 100 or so children at the Buena Park Boys & Girls Club excited about the wide variety of books donated Tuesday to the organization--until some of the characters came to life.

Their interest in “100 Greatest Moments in Olympic History,” for example, soared when they realized that one of the gold medalists portrayed in the book was standing right in front of them, invited by organizers to spark interest in reading among the youths.

“I really enjoy doing this, since I come from a similar background as these kids,” said Patricia McCormick, winner of four gold medals for diving in 1952 and 1956. McCormick, 65, said she had been spotted in the 1940s by a sports recruiter while she was diving in a similar recreational club.


“My father died on Skid Row, and my mother read tea leaves to make a dollar. If it hadn’t been for facilities like this, I don’t think I would have made it.”

The 200 books added to the club’s reading room came courtesy of several donors, including Comcast Cablevision, the Buena Park Library, Time Warner Books and General Publishing Group. Altogether, 1,000 books were donated to several Boys & Girls Clubs across the county through the Books for Kids campaign, coordinated by Comcast.

The children happily grabbed for favorites, such as R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” series, stacked on a display table.

Comcast Cablevision and the other corporate sponsors hope this will be the first of an annual drive.

To draw interest from the children, organizers of the donation at the Buena Park club sought to have characters from the books on hand. Aside from McCormick, they brought in a huge walking figure called Little Red Riding Coat, a character from sponsor HBO’s animated fairy tale classics.

Although they quickly surrounded the HBO character, the kids remained fascinated by the Olympian. “She got real old,” said Diondra Brown, 7, in wonder, after seeing a picture of a young McCormick smiling from the book’s pages.