Isy Mekler’s amibitious idea to buy books for needy children
How his favorite children’s book inspired 13-year-old Isy Mekler — and dozens of artists — to promote early literacy
NEWTON - Isy Mekler is an unusual13-year-old boy. He loves to read books. With pages. “I personally do not own a Kindle or anything like that,’’ said Isy, a 7th grader at Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston. “I love the sound of a page turning, for some reason.’’ For some reason, he also feels compelled to encourage other kids to turn pages. So when the time came to prepare a project for his November Bar Mitzvah, he thought up an ambitious fundraising idea to buy books for needy children. He wrote to hundreds of artists across the country and asked them to create a work of art that could be auctioned to raise money for books. He was inspired, he said, by a favorite children’s book, Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree’’ which has an underlying message about generosity. He emailed some 300 artists and illustrators and asked them to paint or illustrate a three-dimensional cardboard tree, which he had manufactured in Columbia. (It was cheaper there, he said.) Hoping that artists would not only respond but that “each artist would make an incredible, very different tree,’’ Isy’s plan was to donate the trees to Reach Out and Read, a non-profit that promotes early literacy, to be auctioned at their annual fundraiser. Thirty-five artists responded, creating a veritable forest of glorious trees.