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City Lights: Dust off those tomes for children

I was sorting through my bookcase the other week and deciding which ones to keep or donate, and I came to a disquieting realization: Probably a good half of the books I loved growing up are now out of print. I had an eclectic library, ranging from Disney and the Hardy Boys to critical studies of the Marx Brothers and classic rock (OK, I was precocious), and I reread some of them until I could memorize pages at a time.

If you want to find any of them now, you can still snare used copies on Amazon. Of course, most of them came to me used in the first place, and the condition may have worsened in the last two decades. Unless Kindle comes to the rescue, some of them may be nonexistent a century from now.

As one who has both published and written books, I know how much warmer and more exhilarating it is to hold an actual bound volume than to scroll through pages on an iPad. Perhaps I’ve dated myself just by saying that, but the truth is, a good book doesn’t surrender its value until the spine crumbles and the ink fades beyond the point of legibility.

So if you’re looking to give someone a major gift this holiday season, you may want to stop by one of three Huntington Beach locations for the Bollins family’s children’s book drive. The project, backed by Think Together’s Early Literacy Program, is accepting new or gently used books to distribute to low-income families and to the Orange County Rescue Mission.


Family matriarch Bernadette Bollins, who lives in Cypress, started an initiative with her husband last Thanksgiving to teach their twin granddaughters an essential value every year. The first year, they focused on “kindness” and took the 3 1/2-year-old girls on a tour of the rescue mission, then arranged for them to help with a fundraiser.

This year, the theme is “love.” And since the girls love to read, their grandparents have started a drive to bring books to those who need them.

From Nov. 7 to 18, the family will set up drop-off locations around the county. Books should be targeted at small children through middle-school age — genres that often get discarded as the years pass, Bollins said.

“You’ve got these books on your shelf and your own kids have outgrown them, and these books are sitting here collecting dust,” she said. “We’d like to conjure some new life for these books and get them in the hands of kids who are less fortunate.”


I would love to contribute, but sad to say, none of my childhood books still lined the shelf by the time I started clearing it out. Those old editions of Dr. Seuss, “Choose Your Own Adventure” and the like disappeared years ago. I can’t recall exactly where they went, but I’m almost sure they landed in donation boxes somewhere.

If so, they may reside — in faded, dog-eared form — on some other kid’s bookcase. And if they’ve outgrown that case as well, there are countless recipients out there waiting to make them new again.

City Editor MICHAEL MILLER can be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at

How To Donate

The following locations in Huntington Beach are accepting new and used children’s books from Nov. 7 to 18:

Stone Henge Tile, 7700 Edinger Ave.

Scats Gymnastics, 5742 McFadden Ave.

Subway, 300 Pacific Coast Hwy., Unit 106-B