By Dr. John E. Warren
Mr. Roosevelt Brown has been known for years for his passion for putting books in the hands of children. Each year the now retired Solar Turbine employee has held a “Book Giveaway” for children. Record crowds have come to the Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park for the grand event. It has been funded by contributions and fund raising activities by Mr. Brown all year long with a view toward having enough books to give away each April.
This year’s free event marks the 30th Anniversary for an event that has given away over one million books to children in San Diego, regardless of race, color with the idea of helping each child build their own home library. The books cover a wide range of subjects including Dr. Seuss, science, math, computers, famous Americans, animals, history, biology, short stories, novels, work books and much more. As a rule each child receives at least one free new book and the event provides both entertainment and refreshments for both child and their parents.
Mr. Brown says that every effort is made to ensure that children who are in need of the books get the books, although no one is turned away.
The book giveaway which started in Mr. Browns’ backyard and grew to the point that it was relocated to the Education Cultural Complex, had to move from that location because of its growth and ended up at the Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. Today Mr. Brown says there is some free bus service provided with the aim of making sure no children are left out simply because they don’t have easy access to transportation in an official and approved manner with a school official, a principal a teacher, or librarian required to be on each bus.
Mr. Brown says that one of the most gratifying aspects of the Children’s Book Party, the official name of the event, has been all the volunteers, students and teachers he has met over the years. It seems like the event has become a tradition in some families because children who came twenty years ago are now bringing their children. Many who have gone on to college have kept in touch by their own choice. “We understand how children who don’t have full access to the power of language can face limits in their lives, lose out on valuable knowledge. What can be more important than a kid sitting down to read a book, learning about the world through words, cultivating their imagination and improving their self esteem. Hopefully like those before them, these kids will share their books with their children because in this age of computers, books are still essential.
Mr. Brown’s efforts have been a whole family affair with the hands on support of his wife and children. His son, Jamarr Brown, a college graduate now working and living in Los Angeles, is the M.C. for the event. Thank you Mr. Roosevelt Brown on 30 years of selfless service.