By Evan Johnson
On a recent morning in the Killington Elementary School library, Duncan McDougal, executive director of the Children’s Literacy Foundation, posed a riddle to a group of students that sat cross-legged in front of him: How was he able to travel from his home in Waterbury, Vt. to Antarctica, where he spent time observing penguins, killer whales and seals with a wildlife biologist, and have time to travel back in just a week’s time?
His audience called out answers:
None of the above:
“I traveled by book,” he said. Thanks to the work of children’s author Jim Arnosky, he was able to experience Antarctica from the comfort of his bed. Books were powerful things, he said, presented $2,000 in books to the Roger Clark Memorial Library in Pittsfield and $500 in books to the Killington Elementary School’s library. The titles included fiction and nonfiction, picture and chapter books in all genres, ranging from Madeline L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” to the best-selling Captain Underpants series created by Dav Pilkey.
The books were donated in memory of Winifred Morrissey.
In its 20 years of existence, the nonprofit, which receives no state assistance, has donated more than $6 million in books to more than 400 towns in Vermont and New Hampshire. By the end of the 2018 school year, the foundation will have served 50 elementary schools between the two states.
Before leaving, McDougal encouraged his audience to write their own stories.
“Show them to everyone if you want, or keep them to yourself,” he said.
“Someday, maybe I’ll have the honor of presenting them to another group of students like you.”
Photo by Robin Alberti
Duncan McDougal of the Children’s Literacy Foundation reads to Killington Elementary students on Tuesday, Oct. 24.