Bonaire UMC youth opens lending library


Maggie Higginbotham loves to read. The 15-year-old member of Bonaire United Methodist Church is passionate about prose and wants to share her love of literature with others.

The rising junior at Veterans High School in Kathleen participates in her school’s reading bowl and drama programs, is a member of the National English Honor Society, and wants to become a writer and high school literature teacher. 

She’s also a Girl Scout, and is pursuing the organization’s highest honor, the Gold Award. To earn this prestigious award, which challenges young women to “change the world – or at least your corner of it,” Higginbotham must solve a community problem with a seven-step project. The hope is that the she will help solve it for both the short term and the future.

After discussing ideas with her parents and her former first-grade teacher – who later became her project advisor – Higginbotham combined her love of reading and serving others to help children in her community.

Seeing a need for children to have access to free, age-appropriate books and reading support, she developed and opened the Book Nook, a lending library and summer reading program.

“I thought that it would be a great idea and I’d get to spread literacy and get books into the hands of kids who might not normally have the opportunity,” Higginbotham said.  

Located in Bonaire United Methodist Church’s Elm Street Building, the Book Nook is open to everyone, but is geared mainly toward low-income families already being served by the church’s food pantry and clothes closet ministries. Housed in the same building, children and their parents can make their way down to the Book Nook before or after visiting the other ministries.

Higginbotham hopes that local children will frequent the Book Nook and develop a love and appreciation for reading.

A dozen children were waiting outside the doors when the Book Nook first opened on Friday, June 13.

“You can’t really do anything in life without the ability to read,” she said. “It’s an incredible experience and I want other kids to be able to find the joy in it that I’ve found.”

During the summer, the Book Nook is open for two hours every Friday afternoon. Guests can borrow books, be read to or practice their reading skills with volunteers, and listen to stories during the hourly story time. During the school year, it will be open on the second and fourth Fridays of each month, to coincide with the church’s other outreach ministries.

More than 1,000 books have been donated by Higginbotham’s friends, classmates and fellow church members. Her fellow Beta Club members responded to her request for help by giving nearly 800 books.

“Everyone has been really eager to support this,” she said. “I was really overwhelmed at the excitement people have shown for this. I’ve gotten donations of time, money, effort, everything you can think of. It’s been incredible.”