Community Book Carnival Gives Away More Than 16,000 Books to East Arlington Families

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For students to succeed when they go back to school in the fall, they need to make reading part of their summer plans. That’s where the annual CAPO Book Carnival comes in.

The fifth yearly event was held on May 21 at Arlington ISD’s Thornton Elementary. CAPO, or Community Advocating for Prosperity and Opportunity, matched families in the 76010 ZIP code in East Arlington with thousands of free books for their elementary school-age children. Each child received a plastic bag when they walked in the door, with instructions to fill it up with their favorite titles.

This year more than 16,000 books were collected for the giveaway.

“We just thought this was needed here in this community,” said Sophia Mucino, a board member for CAPO. Many of the schools in the ZIP code have high percentages of economically disadvantaged students. Parents may not have extra cash for books or their work hours don’t allow them to make it to the library, Mucino said.

“We do this at the beginning of summer on purpose. We want them to go home and read and re-read the books,” she said.

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CAPO is a nonprofit started by a group of homeowners who wanted to locally re-invest money from leases signed with natural gas drilling companies, Mucino said. The group has given away more than 40,000 new and used books in previous years. The books are acquired through purchases or donations from businesses and groups such as Half Price Books, Lisa Libraries, Kids Need to Read and First Book Marketplace.

Books for every interest were on-hand, from chapter books like the Junie B. Jones and Magic Tree House series to storybooks featuring Marvel Avengers super heroes and Disney princesses.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Jose Laguna, who brought his three children to the CAPO book fair. “It’s a great help in educating our children.”

Laguna said it can be difficult to buy the children new books each time they want them. Nearby, his 10-year-old daughter, Perla, scanned the tables for books to feed her interest in science, especially anything about tornadoes, hurricanes and floods. She had already snagged a couple of National Geographic Kids books about the outdoors and animals.

“I read faster when I’m entertained,” she said.

In addition to the book giveaway, the CAPO event featured story telling, Ballet Folklorico dancers, face painting, balloon animals and a visit from a Jack Sparrow impersonator.

The Arlington Public Library also supported the CAPO event, signing families up for their free library cards and getting the word about summer reading programs.

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