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The beautiful escape of children’s books

Last Modified: June 28, 2024

Healthy Mind

Children's Books

This post was written by Matthew Beck, staff chaplain, Parkview Health.

Ice cream and books – I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday.

This past weekend, my family and I visited a local dairy farm, which recently opened a retail store and ice creamery. We had been meaning to try the place for some time, and their participation in a fundraiser for one of our favorite local not-for-profits, Kate’s Kart, was all the encouragement we needed to more than sample the fresh, farm-to-waffle cone goodness. 

The ice cream did not disappoint, but what drew us there was even sweeter. While watching my nearly 10-year-old, healthy twins trade licks of their chosen flavors, I was transported back to our earliest introduction to Kate’s Kart, when Ezra and Eliza spent their first three weeks of life in the NICU.

In the midst of rearranging schedules and caring for our then 3- and 5-year-olds, my wife and I were worried about the newborn twins and exhausted. While catching our breath in the Ronald McDonald House, we were met by a warm volunteer and a colorful cart of books.

In a matter of minutes, we were all smiling and laughing, kids and parents alike, reading aloud the hilarious misfortunes that might befall you If You Give a Cat a Cupcake by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond.

That day, Kate’s Kart gave us a brief moment of respite and opened us up to the magic of kid’s books. Stories, especially the ones written in the genre of children’s literature, not only take us someplace else for a little while, but they invite us back into the reality of our lives with a refreshed perspective that goodness, beauty and truth win out, even in the midst of suffering. In short, kid’s books make our hearts bigger and stronger, to hold all the joy and pain that comes our way.

This June, Kate’s Kart held its 16th annual Ice Cream Social, a perfect way to celebrate that this program is now in 25 hospitals across Northeast Indiana and Northwest Ohio. With 42 carts and counting, the not-for-profit has provided more than 400,000 books for hospitalized children and their families.

We still have those nearly 10-year-old books with the Kate’s Kart stickers on the back. They’re well-loved and taped up and have a special place on the shelves of books we’ve collected over the years. When we see them, we remember the joy they brought us. I know they have the same for so many other Parkview families, and my hope is that children’s books can bring you the same escape if you find yourself in a similar situation.

Learn how you can support Kate’s Kart by visiting them here. For more on how children’s literature makes our hearts bigger, watch Kate DiCamillo’s 2014 Newbery Award banquet speech.

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