‘Boo’-ks for kids: Niles bookstore extends free books to area children, teenagers in October

NILES — A local bookstore’s staff recognized this year had been full of tricks, so it wanted to make sure treats were in order for area children and teenagers.
Inside the quiet, new and used bookstore, Shelf Life Community Bookstore, 223 N. Fourth St., Niles, are shelves full of literature waiting for the next reader to come along and pick them up. Through the month of October, on Fridays and Saturdays, children in age up through seniors in high school can stop in and get a new book to read, for free.
“We think reading is important and want to help kids by ensuring they have books,” said Mary Ward, a bookstore staff member from Buchanan.
The shop usually participates in downtown Niles’ annual trick-or-treat event, but with the uncertainty surrounding the safety of trick-or-treating, the shop decided to expand the hourlong event into a monthlong offering.
The children’s and high school book room, just around a corner and down the hall from the store’s entrance, is a cozy place to peruse the stacks for a new adventure or mystery to enjoy.
Instead of just one or two days, the bookstore’s staff agreed to extending the event to each Friday and Saturday during the month of October. Collector’s Room books are not included in the free book giveaway.
Shelf Life’s staff noticed the downtown trick-or-treating event may not happen this year. During the downtown’s annual trick-or-treating, the staff usually has a setup on the sidewalk with a canopy for children and teenagers going around downtown to each storefront to pick out a new picture book or chapter book treat to take home. The staff wanted to make sure a free book or two was still available to students in need of a new read, with COVID-19 concerns around trick-or-treating being potentially risky.
Ward said the selection the store offers usually surprises first-time visitors. She listed off a variety of books available in the children’s and youth book room including graphic novels, non-fiction, fiction, chapter books from first grade through high school, fiction and science fiction.
“There’s hidden treasures,” Ward said. “You never know what you’re going to find. People are usually surprised by the amount of new books we have and the prices.”
Ward has been working for Shelf Life Community Bookstore for about a year.
“I fell in love with major reading, lots and lots of reading, after I retired,” Ward said.
She enjoys seeing everyone who comes in to take a look around.
“Hopefully [when] all of [the pandemic] ends, we can go back to hosting group activities,” she said.

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