A trip to a Christmas-themed museum in Storm Lake, Iowa, will not only leave children with a smile on their faces, but also with books in their hands.
For the third straight year, Santa's Castle in Storm Lake is giving away a free book to each child who comes to see Santa Claus at the museum.
The books are brand-new, Christmas-themed and appropriate for kids up to 12 years old.
The museum is in the old Carnegie Library and has been operating since 1962. It claims to have the largest display of antique, animated Christmas characters in the U.S.
The book giveaway is a recent phenomenon. In 2010, the Storm Lake library donated 26 books that were given away to children.
“The parents just absolutely loved it,” said Ron Hott, president of Santa's Castle. “And I thought ... instead of giving candy canes, wouldn't it be great if we could give books?”
So he made some calls, eventually reaching Better World Books, an Indiana-based company that donates books and a portion of its revenues to literacy efforts.
In 2011, Better World gave 1,200 books to Santa's Castle. This year, Better World donated more than 5,000.
Santa's Castle is open each year from Thanksgiving Day through New Year's Eve, daily except for Christmas Day. Santa is there until Dec. 24.