How quickly the years pass; this spring our grandson Miles will be 15. His birth ushered in a big change in my life, the beginning of grandparenting — what a blessing. Five months after Miles debuted, another buddy was born — Newsbee, the now well-known mascot of Book Buzz, a program that owns a chunk of my heart.

When I talk with publishers in New York City about this grassroots program, in which donors have provided funds to purchase more than 14,000 quality hardcover books for school and public libraries, they’re aghast.

“What a great program to work with,” I’ve heard on more than one occasion. I brim with pride thinking of the service clubs, individuals and businesses that help with this amazing project, and a community newspaper that so willingly supports it.

Sets a Personal Goal

Another important aspect of Book Buzz is the opportunity it offers for students to write reviews of the books Newsbee suggests, some of which are published in The Missourian, and on its online edition.

Last fall, a dedicated teacher at Crosspoint Christian School, yet another school that receives Book Buzz books, contacted me. Patti Nantz’s email buzzed with enthusiasm. She was going to redouble her efforts to have her combined third- and fourth-grade class write reviews.

I happily report that Patti has stood good on her promise. Each month her students submit reviews, and they frequently appear in The Missourian, often alongside reviews from students at Immaculate Conception School, submitted by teacher Jane Fox, whose third-graders offer feedback on Newsbee’s Picks.

I commend these wonderful educators, and am in hopes that other teachers will regularly follow their lead, as well as parents and grandparents. You see, Book Buzz book reviews can be sent to The Missourian by individuals too; parents or grandparents can go to Washington Public Library or Scenic Regional Library’s Union branch, check out the books and have their young readers write reviews.

Information about when the reviews are due can be found on The Missourian in Education page on And of course I’m always available to help at

All Abuzz About Books

Patti took her goal to utilize Book Buzz a step further. She invested in a couple of mini bee costumes; her students now take turns suiting up to read to Crosspoint preschoolers and the kindergarten class monthly when the new Book Buzz books arrive. I had the opportunity to see the Newsbee helpers in action. For a book lover, the visit was awe-inspiring.

To watch the third- and fourth-graders reading to the little ones was so sweet, the older students holding the younger students enraptured.

The girl bee, Eily Caldwell, read “A Child of Books,” a December Book Buzz book, by Oliver Jeffers, an inspiring tale about reading. The boy bee, Asher Weldy, read a funny, older Book Buzz book, “Dog vs. Cat,” by Chris Gall, about two animals at odds with one another.

The kindergarten teacher, Cindie Prehm, and Patti got a kick out of seeing the children’s reactions to the reading, and then we all launched into talking about books — students and adults, amazing to see what conversations about books will lead to.

It’s my hope that in 2017 we can all recommit to reading, to having conversations with children and teens about what books they’re into, and perhaps join a book club or get to the library more often.

It’s a worthy cause, don’t you think? An investment into what’s good for the world, a goal that demands so little time but has such far-reaching, life-changing results.