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Cover Story April 10th, 2008

  Untitled Document


by lyle e davis

photoBut now, you look here: you've got a certain swagger to ye, you know, I can see you're as smart as paint. I seed that when I set my eyes on you ... now Matey, wouldst ye like to go treasure huntin’ wi’ me? There be Treasure for the takin’ o’ it . . . follow me!

We can’t swear that’s how pirates talked in the old days. Or even today (for there still are pirates, you know).

One thing we do know, there is a lovable old pirate wandering around North San Diego County and he does bear treasure. Lots of it. The difference with this pirate is . . . he shares his treasure.

His name is Captain Book. Yup. Captain Book. As in those things we used to read before television and the Internet came along.

Captain Book figures young people, in particular, ought to get to know these things. Improve their readin’ skills, don’cha know . . . so they can be applying those skills in reading up on the Internet . . . oh, and for when they get to college.

Capatain Book is a creation of a rather talented man by the name of Morris Pike. He’s a retired Professor, having taught the theatre arts for 34 years at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa. Prior to that he taught at a small Chrstian College in Canton Ohio, at Kent State University, and has also taught in grade school and high school.

Like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, Captain Book is a big hit with the children of North County. When Captain Book shows up in North County schools he sees great big grins and eager attentiveness as he spins his pirate yarns and lets the kids in on how they will soon be sharing in the treasure.

The treasure is located in a big ol’ Pirate’s Treasure Chest. And when the kids get to finally open it, they find that the treasure is worth much more than simple gold and diamonds. The Treasure Chest is filled with books! Books that open these youngsters minds to the world . . . to the adventure of life . . . life today, life of yesterday, life in the future. Wherever they want to go, or be, they can accomplish the goal . . . with books.

photoCaptain Book was born in 2002, the product of the fertile mind of Morrie Pike, the then president of the Greater Encinitas Kiwanis Club.

“We were looking for a project for our club,” he says. “In Encinitas we had a fairly affluent community. We analyzed the needs of the community in order to tailor our project to help the community. We decided literacy was something that had a strong possibility. My daughter gave me the idea of coming up with some type of pirate theme. To fill a Treasure Chest with books . . . and then to give them to various 501c3 (non-profit) clubs in the area, such as Head Start, the YMCA, and so on. We learned the YMCA had a before and after school program and we worked up this program and wanted to give treasure chests and the books to them. We decided we needed an image to go with it . . . and we developed Captain Book”.

Soon, Professor Morris Pike was dressing up as a pirate . . . and was busily engaged in going around and promoting literacy to the kids.

And the kids ate it up.

Captain Book encourages the kids to be good readers. Captain Book spins some pretty good yarns himself . . . and he has some pretty good props and ideas to keep the kids paying attention.

For example . . . he has a “shell phone” that Captain Book answers. Seems someone, a storybook character, has a problem. After hearing the storybook character out, Captain Book turns to the kids for help. He describes the problem, in very dramatic fashion, of course. And ask the kids to come up with a solution.

And they do. Everytime.

Aaaargggh! Captain Book . . . a close personal friend of Morris Pike of Encintas

Captain Book soon asks the kids to guess what’s in the Treasure Chest. Some kids say jewels . . . others will say gold; but others will say ‘books.’

Captain Book tells them, of course, that books are far more valuable than gold or jewelry. And the kids readily agree.

Captain Book started keeping records back in 2005. Just since that time he has given out 18,006 books.

His Kiwanis Club buys the books, often ‘gently used.’ Lots of folks donate books, some donate money to buy books. They have a working arrangement with scholastic publishers wherein they get really great deals. They buy from Borders Book Sellers . . . and they have a relationship with First Books, a non-profit national organizaion, available to 501(c)3 (non-profit) organizations at tremendous discounts. Some books going for as little as 25 cents each. Some of the Kiwanis members in his club will buy books and give them to Captain Book for his mission. The program has been up and running for six years, having started in 2002, but the Captain Book mission and adventure has been sailing the high seas of education for only the past four years. For the first two years, they had the Treasure Chest . . . but Captain Hook took some time to create. Captain Book and his Encinitas Kiwanis Club has been successful in persuading the city of Encinitas to provide some grant money; Pam Slater Price, County Supervisor, has also funded the program, as has Target Discount stores, as well as area banks. His club is always looking for fund raisers to generate more wherewithall with which to buy the books.

Captain Book’s alter-ego, Morris Pike, with wife, Nancy, during a recent holiday in Maui, Hawaii.

Recently, they added a pickup truck, specially outfitted with two shelves on all three sides of the bed of the truck. Called “Books Ahoy,” this truck goes to a different school once a month. The teachers are allowed to pick 10-20 books for their classroom. They had learned that, often, teachers were spending their own money to buy supplies, including books, for their students. They decided this would be a good way to cut down on teacher’s expenses. “Books Ahoy” gives out between 100 and 200 books each month.

photoTheir club has also adopted the “Teacher of the Month” program, where they send one teacher from each of the area schools, and treats the teacher to $100 worth of books for their professional library. Books that will help the teacher become a better teacher.

Captain Book serves all of North San Diego County. In early April he will be at schools in San Marcos, in mid April at schools in Escondido.

If your school would like a visit from Captain Book, contact him via email at: You may also reach him by phone at 760.942.8778.

Morris Pike is married, has four children, but as a result of his second marriage he and his second wife have seven children all together.





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