Public Safety

Local Student Collects Hundreds of Books for Juvenile Hall


A future juvenile hall library being built on donated books swelled by about 400 titles Friday when Megan Thrush, 16, dropped off a dozen crates of novels and non-fiction donated by peers and teachers at Patrick Henry High School.

 “I couldn’t get every variety of book, but I certainly hope there’s enough variety that (the kids in juvenile hall) are getting to choose what to read,” said Megan as she considered the hundreds of paperbacks and hardbacks her dad and brother helped her unload at the Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility.

“There are books here I would read—and have read,” said Megan, shuffling through the boxes and pointing out intriguing covers and old favorites.

Freak Almighty—that’s a great book!”    

Megan, who just finished her junior year, loves reading and decided to collect books for the kids in custody with her mom’s encouragement. Dorothy Thrush, Megan’s mother, is an executive with the County’s Public Safety Group and one of many employees who was inspired by a story on County News Center last month about the burgeoning book collection.

Kearny Mesa Detention Facility Director Craig Stover said County employees and departments and outside groups have donated more than 4,000 books—maybe as many as 5,000—since the story ran.  

The titles fill bookshelves and pile up in a juvenile hall storage room being converted into the library. Thousands more wait in another room until more bookshelves arrive. A retired librarian has promised to help organize the collection. The library should be open in within a few months, Stover said.

“The response has been great,” he said. “We have more than enough books to install a library.”

Kids in juvenile hall go to school every day and have access to books and leisure reading. But a full library with plenty of choice will be more appealing, Stover said. There is no television or video gaming at the facility, so reading becomes a primary form of entertainment for some kids.

“Now we’ve got so many they can get a book and take it home if they want,” Stover said. “We want the kids to read. Not just here, but when they’re home.”

Megan said Patrick Henry students and teachers surprised her with how many books they donated. She advertised the book drive in the school bulletin and placed three boxes around the school. In the two week collection period, she had to empty the boxes three times.

Collecting the books was easy, Megan said, but she also thinks the contributions could have a real impact. After all, reading has always been a positive part of her own life. She said books help her learn and carry on interesting conversations. And she just loves books and the prospect of discovering something new to read, even demanding her parents stop every time they pass a used book store.   

“I knew it was important. I have lots of books—my grandmother always gave me books,” she said.  “I read and I read and I really enjoy it.”