HARLINGEN — Victoria Villalpando gripped a fresh copy of “Hocus Pocus and the All-New Sequel” in her hands, her eyes browsing hundreds of new books in the van.

“I feel good that I can get books to read,” said Victoria, 8, who’d come with her mother and sister to pick up some new reading material in the parking lot at Vernon Middle School.

It was a bright Monday morning, and for the fourth straight Monday in June, the Harlingen school district’s van was showing up at four schools to give away new books. The program, Books2Go, has always been a success, but in the time of COVID parents and students have shown an extra bit of eagerness for reading material.

“Our crowds have been extremely large,” said Mireya Galvan, coordinator of library services for the Harlingen school district.

“On a Monday morning, when my library media specialists visit four schools, we’ve had over 200 people visit,” Galvan said. “We’ve got all kinds of books from early childhood readers all the way up to chapter books and novels for high school students.”

One of those library media specialists giving out books was Windy Flores. At Treasure Hills Elementary, the first of four stops, she spoke excitedly about the turnout.

“The parents and students are both hungry for books,” Flores said. “Just today we have something for the young ones and for the teenagers.”

Some parents reported children with such big appetites for reading they couldn’t afford to buy enough books.

The Books2Go program helped feed that need for such parents as Melanie Haraway. She was at Treasure Hills first thing Monday to pick up armloads of books for her two daughters age 8 and 10.

“My 10-year-old reads at least five books a week,” Haraway said. “It’s very hard to get enough books for her. I just got some chapter books, a lot of Disney books.”

At Vernon not too many minutes later, Stefanie Villalpando was delighted that her two daughters could browse to their hearts’ content — and pick up books, to their hearts’ content.

“They love it,” she said. “They love reading, so being able to come and get books, just to be able to read in the summers, is a blessing.”

But Victoria wasn’t just shopping for herself.

“Today I picked out five ‘Descendants’ books and some books for my cousin,” she said. “She’s not able to come here because my grandparents are not able to leave the house.”

Descendants is a series of children’s books produced by the Walt Disney Company.

Books2Go will send its van full of reading material one final Monday on June 29.



Treasure Hill Elementary: 8:30 to 9:15 a.m.

Vernon Middle School: 9:30 to 10:15 a.m.

Vela Middle School: 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Gutierrez Middle School: 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.