Keith, Christin and Keaton Seher
Story by Dorothy Markulis
A world without books.
Unimaginable and yet many children in Summit County live in homes with no books of their own.
But that is about to change, due to the actions of a Macedonia family: Keith, Christin and Keaton Seher.
“We want to put books in the hands and homes of limited resource children, focusing on the crucial ages of zero to five,” Keith said.
According to Keith, that’s when children without early learning resources fall developmentally behind their peers.
The Sehers have formed a non-profit corporation, Bright Star Books, Inc. with a lofty goal of supplying personal libraries of 10 books to each of 7,000 children, aged birth to 5 years old. Not only that, they want to repeat the action each year.
Working with Women, Infants and Children (WIC) of Summit County they want to ensure that limited resource children have access to books.
Keith credits, their son, Keaton – then 3 – with making the choice of their charitable work.
Keith said he and his wife, Christin, were mulling over the ways they could help less fortunate children and mentioned in front of their son that some children had no books of their own.
“Then we have to give them some,” piped up Keaton.
And the rest is history. Bright Star Books, Inc. was founded earning a 501(c)(3) non-profitable charitable status in record time.
“In September we actively started collecting new and gently used books by contacting people we know,” Keith said.
Two of the people they contacted were Randy and Jim Lindley, operators of the Goddard School in Twinsburg.
They jumped on the bandwagon immediately and urged other Goddard Schools to participate as well.
Keith, who has a background in journalism, said the community support has been amazing.
“Right now we have 7,000 books in our basement,” Keith reported.
“We have been overwhelmed by the community support in Summit County.” Keith said. “There are so many wonderful different organizations in this county. Our cause has absolutely been embraced.”
Both Keith and his wife, a professor of community nutrition at the University of Akron, have a healthy respect for the power of the written word and were book lovers from an early age.
“We have books in every room of our house,” Keith said.
When they became parents they witnessed the effect books had on their young son and the importance of access to books in early childhood.
Originally, the Sehers’ focus was on building small libraries in transitional housing, such as shelters for battered women but soon discovered that 60 percent of low-income children did not have age appropriate books in their homes.
“Books give such comfort and joy,” Christin declared.
This spring, Bright Star Books will begin distributing those bundles of comfort and joy with the assistance of WIC of Summit County.
Several area businesses are already on board, serving as collection depots for the new and gently used book project: The Learned Owl in Hudson, Sky Max in North Canton, Round 2 Kids in Cuyahoga Falls and The Little Gym of Brecksville / Sagamore Hills.
The Sehers also encourage local schools and organizations to hold gently used book drives, to support your local library, and become an advocate on behalf of early childhood development initiatives and literacy programs in your area.