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Mother whose son had dozens of surgeries, gives back time through hospital library

Long before Allison Taylor spent time helping children read there, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta was a big part of her family’s story.

ATLANTA — Allison Taylor sat at a child sized table with a kindergartener named Kennedy. They are practicing reading together.

“Oh my gosh you’ve come so far!” 

Kennedy can relate to the story of a child who has to be brave. She is a patient at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. After her she sees the doctor, she loves time with Taylor, also known as the “book lady.”

She is the Family Library Assistant at Hughes Spalding. She is making a career out of giving back the care she and her family received for so long.

Long before Ms. Allison spent her days here, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta was a big part of her family’s story.

“We made countless trips to the emergency room at Egleston,” she said.

She’d bring her son, William, often.

“He had a disease in his esophagus,” she said. “Over time he had 32 surgeries or procedures.”

Books were a needed distraction and entertainment when his own story was painful. She said having the library at the hospital changed his life.

Once William was well, the former English teacher knew she could help bring stories to life and relate to the stories of patients in a place that can feel overlooked, at times.

Hughes Spalding is right next to Grady Hospital. They see as many kids in the emergency room of Hughes as they do at Egleston.

Taylor spends her days choosing books the patients she’s come to know so well, will like. She knows their reading level and their interests. Then she makes deliveries to their rooms. It’s something the kids always look forward to.

Each book is a gift and it inspires learning for the patients who have to miss school.

Shirley Steele brings her 12-year-old grandson, Jerrell Woods for blood transfusions regularly. Each transfusion takes many hours. She said she appreciates Taylor so much.

“It’s all about love.”

Jerrell is a seventh grader at Turner Middle School. He lit up when Taylor walked in with a book about Black Panther.

“It lets him know someone is taking time to bring him something that gives him some pleasure from all of this,” Steele said.

Taylor said  seeing the kids excited about reading and getting a break from thinking about their illnesses, is fulfilling.

 “I feel such joy to see that they are getting something good while they are here,” she said. “What can be a really negative experience for them can turn into something positive and it means so much.”

She understands  the most important story unfolding is about the person holding the book.

“They are really so deserving and they make me count my blessings every day,” she said.

Taylor’s goal is to give each patient a book that they can take home.

“Some of the kids we see here may not have many books, or any books at their house,” she said. “It can be a special gift and inspire them to keep reading as they heal.”

They library at Hughes Spalding is always grateful for donations of new books. Donations can be sent or delivered to Family Services at Hughes Spalding. The address is 37 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive in Atlanta, GA. The zip code is 30303.


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