Milk + Bookies: Where celebrity storytellers celebrate the love of giving
by Erica Messer
A few weeks after my dad died, a good friend called to ask, “wanna bring your little one to a book party?” My immediate thought was, my dad would’ve loved this idea. An avid reader, he was the reason I fell in love with stories and am a storyteller today. It was our routine to dive into a new world and the Paddington Bear series was our favorite. I’m sure it’s the combination of an adorable hero, amazing journeys and of course quality time with my dad that makes me long for those days. It may also be the orange marmalade toast we’d often eat while reading…
What I didn’t realize (until I strapped my son in the baby bjorn and headed to Storyopolis for the first book party) was that my friend, Meredith Alexander, who I’d known since writing on Alias, was offering me a chance to pass along these same memories to other kids. Not just to mine — who would inherit this foundation — but for children who aren’t as fortunate. Ones who will escape into a book, lose themselves in a story, choose their own adventure.
These kids are out there and they need books.
From the start ten years ago, Milk + Bookies was never just a book party. It was the beginning of a beautiful story — a gathering of parents who wanted to teach the value of giving. At first, it was difficult for our kids to understand that not every kid is read a bedtime story. That not every kid has a book at home. But they quickly understood that every kid should have a book. Or two. Or ten.
Read! Give! Grow! – a simple philosophy. It’s all about spreading the love of reading by giving books to those who can’t afford their own. By teaching the importance of giving, it also instills self-confidence, pride and sense of goodwill in our children.
Even though this organization’s grass roots are in Los Angeles, it has spread its wings to the national level with help from supporters like writer/producer J.J. Abrams and agencies like CAA and UTA. Milk + Bookies sponsors schools and communities with the materials needed for their very own “book-raiser” where children are invited to choose, inscribe and donate their books to local peers in need.
This costs money. That’s where Story Time Celebration comes in. It’s the idea of that “book party” on a much larger scale.
It’s a family day full of crafts, music, and story time (often read by stars of TV and film, such as Julie Bowen, Jennifer Garner, Don Cheadle and Jack Black). Milling about are favorite characters from beloved children’s books who entertain the crowd in full costume, while families eat lunch and of course enjoy milk and cookies. It’s amazing to watch children pick out a book, inscribe it and then donate it in the treasure chest. They rarely do just one… the act of giving is addictive and that’s a lesson you’re never too young to learn.
This little idea that started a decade ago has grown with a lot of love + attention from friends, family and celebrities. Every one who is a parent — famous or not — wants to raise good people. Introducing them to a concept like Milk + Bookies is a great start.Tags: Alias (TV show), Criminal Minds (TV show), Donating books, Erica Messer, J.J. Abrams, Meredith Alexander, Milk + Bookies, Philanthropy, Raising generous children, Story Time Celebration, Storytelling, Television writer