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Author Donna Love is doing her part to help the children and the schools of Oklahoma City recover from devastating tornadoes that hit the area in May.

Joining forces with children’s book authors and illustrators from around the country, Love is sending several copies of two of her books to two Oklahoma elementary schools hit hardest by the natural disaster.

“This is an unusual event,” Love said from her Seeley Lake home. “I have heard of sending books out for international causes, but I have never had a request like this come out of a national event.”

Restocking the libraries at Plaza Towers and Briarwood elementary schools with books signed by the authors and illustrators was the idea of award-winning illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser and was promoted by the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader.

When Love learned about the effort, she was more than happy to get involved.

“There were so many children who were affected and who are going back to school who have lost their friends, and some have lost their brothers and sisters,” she said. “The survivors are still devastated by this. And yes, insurance money will help rebuild these school and libraries, but this is a way for authors to reach out in a more personal way to say ‘We feel for your loss.’ ”

Healing and hope can be found through the magic of books and the stories they tell, Love said, which is why she is sending the schools signed copies of her books “The Glaciers Are Melting!” and “Henry the Impatient Heron.”

Not only will the books be signed by Love, they will also be signed by children from Seeley Lake and Missoula.

Love had several people inscribe in her books while at a recent weekend book-signing event at Fact & Fiction.

“New school, new year, new dreams, blessings to you all,” reads one message.

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“Thinking of you and hoping you have a successful school year,” says another.

When the schools are rebuilt, the donated books will be housed in a special place in the libraries where they will be tended to by librarians Pi Johnston and Teresa Schroeder, both of whom suffered back and neck injuries in the tornado while ushering their students to safety.

“Stories can touch children’s hearts,” Love said. “They can take them outside of the pain for a moment, or if it’s a story that relates to their pain, it can give them a way to express what they are feeling, or understand it better.

“All of that can be a help.”

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Reporter Betsy Cohen can be reached at 523-5253 or at bcohen@missoulian.com.

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