North Paran Gives Away Books to Atlanta Schoolchildren
Irrepressible giggles and bright smiles greeted bestselling authors Denene Millner and Nick Chiles as they looked out over a crowd of eager children in the media center of Burgess-Peterson Academy in Atlanta. Millner and Chiles were there to give away books—a free book to each of the two dozen youngsters seated before them. This was the North Paran pledge come to life: for every book sold on the NorthParan.com site, a book is given to a needy child. The event was made possible by the customers of North Paran.
On this afternoon in June, Millner and Chiles brought boxes of two of their favorite books: Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold for the second graders; Julian’s Glorious Summer by Ann Cameron for the fourth and fifth graders. Millner read aloud Ringgold’s classic tale about an eight-year-old girl in New York who uses her imagination to picture herself flying above the tenement buildings where her family lives and the George Washington Bridge that her daddy helped to build. Chiles read to the children an excerpt of Cameron’s book, about a boy who is afraid to tell his best friend that he is scared to learn how to ride a bike. After they finished the reading and answered a ton of questions about their own books and writing careers, Millner and Chiles led the youngsters in a story-building exercise, where each child is asked to add an element to a story that the group creates on the spot.
Millner and Chiles are both New York Times bestselling authors. Of the 19 books she has authored or co-authored, Millner has written six books for children, including Miss You, Mina, which is part of Scholastic’s Candy Apple series (and which was the first book in the 26-book series to feature an African-American protagonist). The authors were joined at the event by teenagers from Jack & Jill, the 73-year-old national organization for African-American mothers and children. The teenagers volunteered at the school as part of the organization’s Teen Leadership Conference for the Southeast Region. Millner and Chiles challenged the children with a writing assignment in which they were asked to pick one of the following topics: construct a story about an occasion when they overcame their fear like the character in Cameron’s book, or use their imagination to envision something special in their lives changing shape and becoming something else, just like the little girl did in Ringgold’s book. Each child was paired with one of the Jack & Jill teenagers to help them complete the assignment. Though some of the children approached the writing assignment with trepidation, there was much laughter and giggles in the room when they sat down and got to work with the teens. When they were done, the children left the room clutching their new books and wearing big smiles.