For the last five years since opening her downtown store on the corner of Purisima St. and Kelly Ave., owner Cindy Whittemore has given Coastside kindergartners from Montara to Half Moon Bay to Pescadero the opportunity to select and take home a book of their choice free of charge.
On Thursday morning, 120 of those students from and picked out their books from the hundreds stacked high on the shelves of the children's section at Ink Spell.
Students tended to select books with familiar topics and titles: Soon-to-be 5-year-old Joel chose a thick book dedicated to the T. Rex dinosaur, one of his favorites. Aliya picked out "The Little Mermaid," the story of Ariel, her alter ego to-be this Halloween. 5-year-old Froilan chose a Bob's Builder book.
Daylin Torres decided to take home a Toy Story book called "Buzz and the Bubble Planet."
"I like Buzz Lightyear," she said.
"Picking out a book to take home from the store is normal for some kids," Whittemore said. "They come in knowing what they want and select it right away."
"But for others, they're not sure if it's okay to be able take something home from a store," she said. "They say 'But my mom won't let me' or 'When do I have to bring it back'?"
"The whole concept of being able to keep something is foreign to them," Whittemore said. "This is the first time they've ever had a choice."
"I really appreciate her generosity," said Bethany Kane, Moss Beach resident and mother of Torres. "It's amazing for her to think about giving a book away to so many kids," she said.
Each year, the store gives away 400 - 500 books a year, according to Whittemore.
Over the holiday season, Ink Spell provides books in the packages given to recipients adopted by Coastside Hope's program.
"It's the local community which makes this possible," Whittemore said, referring to monetary donations from customers, as well as those who prefer not to receive any credit for used books as a way to support the book donation program.