Give the Gift of Reading This Year

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“Middle school students really do like books. They like them so much, we found they would even steal them when we used to hold a book fair around the holidays in the past.”

That statement from Cynthia Sellinger really hits home for me. She’s the principal of Asheville Middle School—a job only the most dedicated of teaching veterans would want to take on. (Luckily, Cynthia LOVES middle school and thinks there’s no better age to work with.)

Remembering "The Middle"

For most of us, middle school is simply something we’re happy to have made it through alive. No looking back, no thinking about that awkward stage when you’re no longer a kid, but not quite a young adult. Even terms like “tween” don’t sound like something particularly wonderful to call yourself.

Perhaps that’s why it’s surprising to me that many middle school students have new books on their holiday wish lists. But, when I think back, my interest in reading really accelerated during sixth and seventh grades.

I couldn’t wait to visit the library and select a handful of books that weren’t on the mandatory reading list.  Sometimes, it was something way beyond my reading level with lots of references I (thankfully) was too young to get. Other times, some light reading of books that had been made into a movie or some pop-culture subject.

Charles William Eliot said, "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends—making for great company wherever we may wander." That could be a reason middle schoolers are requesting them. When you’re in the “middle years,” you can feel like nobody understands you and never will, but you can always identify with the protagonist of the book you’re currently reading.

We Can All Help

Middle school is a tough age to buy for and many local charities that distribute holiday gifts find adolescents fall off the radar when people are making donations. For the second year, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County’s Women’s Leadership Council is collecting gifts for middle school students in need. You can help by donating a new, unwrapped gift.

Don’t stress out about the gift-giving: we’ve rounded up the most-requested items and put them on a list! Since there are so many books, we’ve also partnered with Barnes & Noble Booksellers at the Asheville Mall. You can purchase gift items at the retailer and they’ll make sure to get them to us by the beginning of December.

With your help, we can make sure kids in Asheville and Buncombe County have a happy holiday season. Everyone deserves something special, something to remember and cherish. The holidays are a special time for most of us and you can start a new tradition by donating to our gift drive for middle school students.

Chris Bubenik is the Marketing and Communications Manager and is currently reading The Heart Does Not Grow Back by Fred Venturini. He can be reached at or (828) 239-1030.

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