(Sept. 6, 2017) -- Meet Robert and Kathryn Mills. Through the joy of reading, this UTSA student and his mother are bringing comfort to children affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Robert, a UTSA junior majoring in history, and Kathryn, a second-grade teacher in Katy, Texas, are the founders of the Hurricane Harvey Book Club, a Facebook group that allows anyone to upload a video of themselves reading a children’s book. The Houston natives were inspired to create the group after seeing how Harvey affected children in their Houston hometown.
“My mom has many young ones in her class affected by the tragedy,” Robert said. “We hope the club brings joy and normalcy to their lives through storytelling.”
The Facebook group, which began with a few families, has grown to 72,000 members in just a couple of weeks. Members of the group are encouraged to post videos of themselves or their children reading a children’s book. Families caught in Harvey’s path are encouraged to watch the videos to calm their children’s nerves and cope with the stress and hardship they’re experiencing.
On the group’s page, Kathryn Mills writes, “Teachers tell their students all the time that books can take them on far away adventures. This seems like the perfect time for these sweet kids and their families to get away from the chaos and fall into some really good books.”
The page already has thousands of videos of kids, adults and even children’s book authors reading favorites such as Goodnight Moon, Bear Feels Scared, Love You Forever, Green Eggs and Ham and Por si no te lo he dicho. Additionally, members of the Facebook group have uploaded videos of themselves sharing their favorite books in song and sign language.
The UTSA mother and her son are now asking Roadrunners to help.
“Here in San Antonio, we missed the brunt of the storm,” Mills said. “It could have been us going through what they’re going through in Houston and along the Gulf Coast. Around Texas, when a community is in need, we should do our best to reach out and help.”
The Mills family is also working on donation efforts to help people affected by Harvey. In the future, Robert Mills plans on holding a children’s book drive at UTSA. Donations would go to schools in the storm’s path that had their libraries damaged or destroyed.
“We have the greatest faculty, staff and students at UTSA,” Mills said. “Even though we’re hundreds of miles away, we can help make a difference.”
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