To encourage reading this summer and throughout the school year, the Vashon Island Community PTSA recently placed four free book exchange boxes around the island.
Located in the north and south ends, the west side and Gold Beach, the boxes include books for preschoolers to adults. With their original collections, the boxes hold only books by local authors or illustrators. The selection will change as people use the boxes as they are intended, by taking a book and leaving one for someone else — which PTSA President Jenny Wegley hopes will happen frequently.
“We want people to participate. It will take the community to make this work,” she said.
A dozen authors and illustrators donated their work for the project, called Literacy Matters, along with the Vashon Bookshop and the Friends of the Vashon Library, both of which will continue donating books throughout the year to help keep the boxes full.
Wegley said the PTSA chose to keep their first offering of books local to highlight the island’s talent.
“We have this little secret, we have so many authors and artists, and people do not even know,” she said.
Islanders Drew Meade and Jeromy Sander donated their time and materials to build and install the boxes. Inside the boxes are laminated bookmarks designed by Chautauqua student Elouise Lawrence, who won a PTSA bookmark design contest at the school.
“The message we would like to create is the importance of reading over the summer and always,” Wegley said. “We are bringing the community together one book at a time. Take a book. Leave a book and read, read, read.”
Island authors and artists who have donated books are Tom Brenner, Karen Cushman, Jean Okimoto, Sofia Weil, Kate Endle, Caspar Babypants, Bianca Perla, Suzanna Leigh, Ann Leda Shapiro, Mary Rothermel, Jenna Riggs and Whispering Bogs.
The boxes are located in the south end at 13016 SW 297th Way, the north end at 10709 SW Cowan Road, the west side at 17044 Westside Highway and Gold Beach at 7501 SW 257th St.