The whoosh of the automatic doors lead me to the original stone staircase. I can still see glimpses of the 150 year-old structure if I look to either side, beyond the modern shiny linoleum floor to the bricks and mortar beneath. These steps hold a thousand stories from all the children that have walked up them since it opened in 1860. I had entered The Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.
A few weeks ago, I approached my fellow members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and beyond, to see if they might consider donating some books for International Book Giving Day. I was hoping to receive around twenty donated books, that would be a great number for the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services unit (CAMHS), I thought to myself.
Approaching authors and illustrators to donate their blood, sweat and tears to a good cause is a daunting thing to do and I never expected them to be so generous. I see posts all the time on Facebook groups asking for this, that and the other. There’s only so much they can give, right?
Parcels galore began to arrive at my work (Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity), the charity that raises much-needed funds for the children’s hospital. I even received doodles on jiffy bags, key-rings, magnets as well as the ‘here’s a couple of my books’ packages that just kept on flooding in. My desk resembled a sorting office until I took them home to wrap, before finding them all a new home.
With a whopping 109 donated books, we headed out to the wards. Our trolley over-flowed with literary goodies as we quietly shared them out to open-mouthed toddlers, shy teenagers and their siblings. Tired mums and dads nodded and smiled at us as we brought a little light into their day, the constant beeping of machines reminding them why they were there.
Generosity comes in all shapes and sizes. For me, this was as big as the Forth Road Bridge. A thank you is never enough when amazing people go out of their way to help, but it’s all I’ve got for now.
Emma Perry, creator of International Book Giving Day and the wonderful book website My Book Corner, I salute you. Thank you for being you.