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Captain Book makes reading fun

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When it comes to making reading enjoyable for children, few are more committed to the task than Morris Pike, who is known to thousands of children as “Captain Book.” In this interview with Captain Book about the “Treasure Chest Literacy Program,” the good Captain discussed why he started the program and its accomplishments to date.

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“I surveyed the community and concluded that literacy was not only a good cause, but something our [Kiwanis] club could do,” Pike said. “Today, we average more than 70 visits a year to Head Starts, libraries and public school classrooms, we deliver free books to different schools each month for teachers to put in their classroom libraries and the Kiwanis Club of Greater Encinitas selects a teacher of the month to receive a $100 gift certificate for books.”

The Treasure Chest Literacy Program began in 2000 when retired theater professor Dr. Morris Pike and Kiwanis Club of Greater Encinitas charter member Larry Marquardt built six treasure chests, filled them with 40 books each and gave them to the Magdalena Ecke YMCA. By late 2002, Dr. Pike created the good pirate Captain Book, who continues to visit classrooms, inspiring children to read.

By Christmas 2013, Captain Book will have given away more than 76,000 books to children in need. The target age group for visits is 3-10. Captain Book said, “Most of the children we reach are from pre-school to 3rd grade. We deliver free books to different schools each month for teachers to put in their classroom library.”

The program could not exist without help from the community. The Captain said, “We could not do what we do without help from fundraising events such as pancake breakfasts, comedy night featuring Patti Phillips, gifts from individuals and other Kiwanis Clubs including those in District 37, and grants from City of Encinitas, Camp Pendleton Officers Wives Club, Santa Fe Foundation and San Diego County.”

While the Captain himself is a treat for any child, there are numerous special events conducted throughout the year. “We have Beach Fun Day, go to the Encinitas Holiday Parade, Oceanside 4th of July Parade, as well as special events at Camp Pendleton and the Marine Recruitment Facility in San Diego.”

Christmas is a very special time of year for the Captain Book, who will visit and give away books at Rady Children’s Hospital, Foster Care Children, and San Pasqual Academy. There is also a Holiday Basket sponsored by the Encinitas Community Resource Center and a selected Head Start will receive gift cards.

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Learn more about Captain Book and the Treasure Chest Literacy Program at The Captain also has written 22 stories for kids which are published on the Country Traveler Online under the name M. Russell Pike and five are on Amazon Kindle.

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