Preschoolers in the library of Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center listened with rapt attention Friday morning to Barbara Spell's animated reading of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears."
At times, the youngsters excitedly described the book's colorful illustrations.
It was a vivid reminder of the power of books in the minds of children.
Friday's story time was held to celebrate the 13th annual Books for Kids campaign, which has provided more than 1.3 million books to needy kids.
The cooperative effort among Project FLIGHT, a Family Literacy Program, The Buffalo News, Buffalo State College and other companies and agencies last year distributed 70,324 books and raised more than $7,000 to buy books for children with special needs. This year's drive will run until April 30, the end of Literacy Month.
The effort has had a dramatic impact on the hearing and speech center.
"We really push literacy here," said Spell, the center's parent liaison and librarian. "The drive got our library started with a donation of 600 books. Before that, we had nothing; we had no library."
The clinic on East North Street is one of many area institutions and organizations that have benefited from the campaign.
Margaret Sullivan, editor and vice president of The News, said the need for donated books is great in the Buffalo area.
"This a way, we hope, children get to experience the gift of reading," she said. Sullivan emphasized the need for monetary donations so the campaign drive can purchase Braille, bilingual and other books for young readers with special needs.
Checks can be made payable to Books for Kids/Project FLIGHT and mailed to Books for Kids, c/o The Buffalo News, One News Plaza, Buffalo, NY 14240.
The drives happens each year with the help of volunteers who work to gather and transport the books to their recipients throughout Western New York.
Elizabeth Cappella, co-director of Project FLIGHT and a Buffalo State professor, along with other representatives from the campaign's different sponsors also listened to the story reading in the clinic's library.
"When I see the smiles on their faces, it truly brings tears to my eyes," Cappella said. "It's really in my heart."