Last updated: August 24. 2013 6:22PM - 225 Views

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Catherine, 6, had a passion for animals. She would’ve liked “National Geographic Animal Encyclopedia.”

Daniel, 6, wanted to be a firefighter. He would’ve enjoyed “Five Little Firefighters.”

Dawn, the principal, was proud of her students and school. She would’ve loved reading “We Love Our School” to the pupils at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Sadly, these children in Newtown, Conn., won’t get the chance to read these books after the Dec. 14 rampage. But Arin Burton and Stephanie James, a pair of Lima Public Library librarians, carefully selected these titles for the children and want to bring them here where anyone can read them.

“It was like if they were standing here, telling us what they like,” Arin Burton, a youth services librarian, said Saturday. “We do that a lot. We’ll ask what you like to do, what’s your favorite color, what do you like to read … then this is what you might like. This is what we’d do if they could come in to our library.”

Now they hope the public can help put these books in readers’ hands. Through the end of February, the library offers “Hearts of Healing.” People can pay $1 at any service desk at the Lima Public Library on Market Street to sponsor a heart until the end of February. Each heart includes a donor’s name. People can also select one of the titles and pay for it entirely if they’d like, with books ranging from $8 to $25. The newly purchased books will include a specially designed bookplate acknowledging the donation.

“Our goal is to raise enough money to purchase at least 26 books, one for each life lost, but it would be wonderful to exceed that goal,” James said in a press release from the library. “My hope is that the entire library will be filled with hearts.”

After the heart-breaking shooting deaths, parents throughout the country struggled with how to react and talk to their children. For Burton and James, they turned to books.

“We both have children,” Burton said. “We were like most people, heartbroken by the news. We tried to come up with a way to remember those kids and those teachers.”

Burton said they researched each of the people who died in the Sandy Hook tragedy and did what they do best, matching children up with their interests.

“It was sort of heartbreaking to read about them because it hits so close to home,” said Burton, who has elementary-age children at home. “You’re reading about them and what they would enjoy or what they would find interesting.”

That’s why they thought Caroline, 6, who had a giving heart, might like “Will You Fill My Bucket?” Or why Dylan, who loved purple, might pick out “The Big Purple Book of Beginners Books.”

They tried to find something that might interest that fallen child, without focusing too heavily on the somber events of Dec. 14.

There are so many debates to be had in the wake of the senseless shootings, about guns, mental health and our tendencies to overreact to everything.

This relatively simple gesture, putting the books in the hands of children at the library, reminds us of the value of reading to our children and sharing their passions, before it’s too late.

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