PLATTSBURGH - Journey Into Reading has given free books to children every Thursday at Champlain Centre for the last seven years, and has now given out its 20,000th book.
On Feb. 19, program coordinator Alice P. Sample presented 3-year-old Sarah Hunter of Morrisonville with a copy of "The Three Questions," written by Jon J. Muth. Sample gave the book to the young girl during her weekly visit to the Journey Into Reading booth at the mall's center court.
"It's one book I think everyone should read," Sample said, referring to the book's message of how to be a good person.
Sarah's mother, Nicol, was appreciative of the gesture, stating she and her husband, Matthew, have been bringing their daughter to the program since she was 13 months old.
"We happened to be here at the right time one Thursday," she recalled. "We walked past several times and each time someone would ask us if we were interested in getting a free book."
All the Hunters needed to do, like all other families, was give Sample their child's first name, age, town they and school district they are from and write down their relationship to the child. The information, said Sample, helps the nonprofit organization keep track of from where books are requested most and the age of the readers who receive them.
"That's all they ask. So ever since then, we've come back and gotten lots of books," said Hunter.
Hunter, who is a preschool teacher, said she understands the importance of getting a child to read early in life. The program, she added, fosters that importance in a very visible way.
"It really has a big impact on them," she said. "I see a lot of the kids in my class come in on Friday after getting a book here and they're very excited ... I see the effect this program has not just in my home, but what effect it has in a lot of homes."