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Book Reviews: Need Summer Reading Ideas?!

Summer is only halfway over and parents are ready for kids to be back in school! Vacations are mostly over, school supplies are on sale and back to school clothes are out in the stores. It’s also when we remember that there is probably a summer reading assignment hiding in the backpack that hasn’t been opened since May. We have a few ideas of how you can start the donation conversation and tackle that summer reading project all at the same time.

While we have a list of books written for adults and young adults on our website, we’ve never ventured into providing ideas for elementary age children. Fortunately, we have some great resources provided by the Donate Life America Youth Education Committee and a family with a Colorado connection. We also included the reading age or grade level with each book.

Honoring Their Donor with a Story about Generosity and Kindness (ages 2-8)

Clayton Sparks Leaves His Mark is inspired by the story of Clayton Sparks, a young man who became an organ, eye and tissue donor in Colorado at the age of 24. Clayton was a kind and generous person and his liver recipient’s wife, Abby, wanted to honor him by writing a book that shared about his life. Abby was expecting twins when her husband, Reid, received the news that he was to receive the gift of life, a liver transplant in 2019. Through the aftercare process, they were eventually connected with their donor’s family and learned that Reid’s liver came from a young man, Clayton Sparks.

After the transplant, Clayton’s parents and the Greys developed an unbreakable bond. The Sparks shared so many stories of what an incredible person Clayton was. Abby said, “I wanted a way to not only share his legacy with our children, but to inspire other children to give selflessly in the way that he did. I wanted to be able to read the story to my two year old twins but also open the conversation about organ donation with other families”. The book is geared towards children ages 2-8 but is a great read for anyone, and encourages others to make an impact on those around them. Abby’s hope is to inspire others to give more, and it opens the conversation about organ donation within families.

The Howl Series (3rd grade or 630 lexile rating)

Living kidney donor, Brenda Cortez, decided to write a children’s book about her experience after reading her daughter’s college essay about donation. Her book series centers on Howl the Owl and how he and his friends find ways to Help Others With Love. Book 2 – Howl Helps Bella – tells the story of donation through the eyes of Bella as she works to understand what it means when her dad becomes an organ donor.

You can purchase one book or all eight on the Donate Life America website. Purchasing through DLA assists with their mission “to increase the number of donated organs, eyes and tissues available to save and heal lives through transplantation while developing a culture where donation is embraced as a fundamental human responsibility.” Better yet, ask your local library to purchase the books so they are available to anyone!

No matter what book you have your kids pick up this summer, each one is an opportunity to start the donation conversation. Find out more ways to talk about organ, eye and tissue donation at DonateLifeColorado.org or DonateLifeWyoming.org.