Kidding Around creates book fair to bring love of reading to toddlers and young adults

By Grace Rispoli

Senior Connor McNinch still recalls the thrill of emotions he felt as he browsed books years after attending Scholastic Book Fairs as a child.

“I loved the book fair, it was the most exciting time of my life,” he said in an interview. “I wanted to find a way to kind of like bring that into Kidding Around.”

Spurred by his recollection of the book fairs, McNinch decided to pitch the idea of a book donation to Kidding Around, a student theater group focused on creating and performing musicals and plays for young audiences. The organization is donating the books to Room to Grow, a group that supports parents and children during the early stages of life, and plans to hold a collection event on Feb. 6 from 5-7 p.m. in Piano Row’s multipurpose room.

Kidding Around is also working to set up a station on campus where books can be donated for the rest of the semester.

McNinch said the group’s mission, educating through community theater, aligns with the goals of the book drive.

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“I figured what better way than to give books, which are a huge source of education for especially like, young kids,” he said.

Executive Director of Kidding Around and junior Jordan Radis said he immediately loved the idea of a book drive even though it departs from their focus on theater.

“We’re a storytelling organization, and so a book drive is kind of a no-brainer for us because it’s stories we’re giving to kids,” he said in an interview. “I really love that we’re exploring a new medium other than theater and I think the book drive is kind of the catalyst for that.”

McNinch said the age range they plan to target is between toddlers and young adults. Baby books through young adult novels will be accepted if they are appropriate and in reasonable condition.

McNinch and sophomore Omar Mardini, marketing director for Kidding Around, rushed to publicize the idea before the start of the semester because they hoped students who went home could bring their childhood books back to Boston.

Mardini said there is no bad donation and hopes the Emerson College community donates books and attends the event.

“The vision I see for the book drive is a group of Emerson students who are there to bond not only in their love of reading or art but in their love for service and in their love to give back to the community,” Mardini said in an interview. “I think it will just be a really positive event for everybody.”

McNinch and Radis both said they hope Kidding Around continues these types of events in the future. Radis said he would love to have the book drive become a reoccurring event for the organization depending on the outcome of this year’s drive.

“I think if this is a success and if Emerson shows up for it like I hope they do, then [the book drive is] definitely something I would love to continue down the road,” Radis said.

McNinch said he wants others to feel the joy he felt from Scholastic Book Fairs, but without the price tag.

“When we’re so privileged and we get to go to this school that we spend $70,000 a year on,” McNinch said. “I think we can handle giving up one book to give to kids who might not have any.”