[heading] by KATHY LOY

photos by Soul of Photography [/heading]

Most parents know that reading to children when they are young, and encouraging them to keep reading when they are older, is vitally important. We’re told that reading helps kids develop language skills and vocabulary, plus it opens their minds to a world they haven’t yet seen.

Since the year 2000, Morris Pike of Encinitas has done more than his share of improving literacy for thousands of children all over San Diego. Morris, otherwise known as Captain Book, and his “crew” have sailed the Good Ship Literacy throughout the county doing presentations, reading, and delivering books to children who would ordinarily not have them.

Morris says that teachers and school administrators contact him and his crew to request a presentation. They arrive at the school in the Good Ship Literacy (a retired medical rescue vehicle) with the captain’s banjo, maps, puppets and books, and engage the children in an hour long adventure including songs, magic and “tales of a dangerous encounter with Billy Bones,” said Morris. “Afterwards, the crew gives each child in attendance a ‘Captain Book’ bookmark and a book to take home to ‘treasure.’”

Captain Book’s alter ego, Morris, has been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Encinitas for 13 years. As the club’s second president, one of his duties was to survey the community to identify needs the group could address. “Encouraging children to become successful, avid readers is a problem in every community,” he said. “Thus, I conceived our Treasure Chest Literacy Program.” He says that Captain Book’s goals are to stimulate the imaginations of children, encourage and motivate them to read, and provide a live entertainment experience. With 65,000 books given away at over 500 appearances, it appears the program is a huge success.

The Captain and his crew can’t go on their missions alone – they need help. “Of course, pieces ’o eight (hard cash) are most useful,” explained Morris. “You can donate by going to www.captainbook.org, click on ‘How to Help’ button and then donate via PayPal.” An upcoming fundraiser will be at the Elks Lodge on April 20th in Cardiff.

A retired theater professor, today Morris writes children’s stories, enjoys photography, woodworking, gardening and jewelry making. With four adult children, six grandchildren and two great grandkids, Morris Pike must be the most interesting (great) grandfather around. And we’re sure he can tell some fantastic stories.

[box title=”At A Glance” color=”#333333″]

Name: Morris Russell Pike
Age: 79
Community: Encinitas
Profession: Retired Theatre Professor
Years as Captain Book: Going on 13