CLiF serves many thousands of children each year across New Hampshire and Vermont – a service area of 19,000 square miles. I’m on the road a great deal, giving presentations and meeting with kids, parents, teachers, coordinators, presenters, and donors.

Thursday, December 12, 2013 was an unusually long day for me: 17 hours and 372 miles. My itinerary shows the mix of activities, events, and people that makes me love my job so much!

4:30 AM   Waterbury Center, VT   Alarm rings. Get dressed. Don’t scratch our dog Tasha or else she’ll wake the whole house.

Don’t wake Tasha!

5:05 AM   Finish packing 18 boxes of books and hit the road. Light snow falling. Pitch dark. Turn on CD player and travel with Frodo and Aragorn in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Return of the King.

7:00 AM   New London, NH  Visit Simon Brooks, professional storyteller and longtime CLiF presenter. He gave two CLiF presentations to 120+ kids at the Concord, NH Boys and Girls Club this week. Each child chose two new books to keep. Simon gives me the remaining boxes of books. The CLiF-mobile creaks.

Storyteller and CLiF presenter Simon Brooks

8:30 AM  Concord, NH Meet with Laura Rauscher from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation for breakfast and to tell her about CLiF’s latest initiatives. We bump into and are joined by Glenn Currie, a CLiF Board member who lives in Concord.

10:30 AM  Concord, NH   Meeting at the New Hampshire Department of  Corrections as part of CLiF’s year-long partnership with the New Hampshire State Prison for Men. On February 12 I’ll hold another set of seminars for 150 inmates to encourage them to read with their kids. The inmates will all select new books to mail home to their children.

CLiF-mobile outside the New Hampshire State Prison for Men

12:45 PM  Manchester, NH   Lunch at Subway. While munching my Veggie Delite I catch up on thank-you notes to recent CLiF donors.


1:45 PM Manchester, NH   Attend a special ceremony at the Palace Theatre for 54 nonprofits that won grants from NH Speedway Children’s Charities. NH Governor Maggie Hassan speaks. I receive CLiF’s check and take a photo with SCC’s Jerry Gappens, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, and NH Speedway mascot Milo. CLiF will use the grant to purchase hundreds of books about cars and racing – topics of great interest to many children we serve.

Duncan accepts a grant from NH Speedway Children’s Charities and dignitaries

3:00 PM:  Leave Manchester  Drive to the Keene area. Things aren’t looking good for Frodo.

5:00 PM West Swanzey, NH   Greet wonderful local coordinators Sue Megas Russell and Kathy Mullen at the Cutler School, a CLiF Year of the Book school for 2013-2014. Unpack 18 boxes of books for Parent/Child Literacy Night.  This is one of many Year of the Book activities at Cutler this school year.

6:00 PM  Roughly 110 parents and 50 children arrive and enjoy snacks. A HUGE turnout! Principal Linda Kalloger is delighted.

Parents select books for their children

6:15 PM  While children play in another room, I conduct a 45-minute seminar with the parents about the vital importance of sharing books with their children regularly, the impact reading has on a child’s development, and ways to share books with kids even if the parent is not a strong reader. A very attentive audience.

7:00 PM  Parents select two new books for each of their children from a wide-ranging collection of 500+ titles. A dozen volunteers wrap the books on the spot, giving parents a jump on their holiday preparations.

Volunteers wrap brand-new books

7:15 PM  I tell a story to the children and parents.  While doing so, I also model storytelling techniques for the parents.

Duncan tells a story to a rapt audience

7:30 PM  Everyone grabs a final snack. Many parents and kids offer their thanks for the evening. Families head home in the softly falling snow. Cutler staff help me pack up the remaining books and the CLiF displays. Hugs all around. Hit the road.

10:25 PM  Waterbury Center, VT  Return home after a 372-mile day. I’ll unpack the car tomorrow. Finally get to scratch Tasha who is too tired to wake the house.

Sweet dreams, Tasha!

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CLiF has served over 350,000 children since 1998.

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