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The Man Who Believes in Reading

On any given day in San Diego County, it is possible to spot a swarthy, good-looking, authentically dressed pirate, driving a 25-foot, whimsically decorated retired medical vehicle loaded with 5,000 children’s books. That would be Captain Book aboard the Good Ship Literacy on his way to or from a performance that includes giving free books to children who may not otherwise have them. Remembering his own struggles as a young reader, Captain Book is dedicating his retirement years to inspiring young kids to read.

Morris Pike, the retired university professor who doubles as Captain Book, conceived the idea of treasure chests and free books as a literacy project during his 2000/2001 term as a Kiwanis of Greater Encinitas club president. It was not long after, that Pike, who holds a doctorate in theater, created the good pirate Captain Book.

“I surveyed the community and concluded that literacy was not only a good cause, but something our club could do,” Pike said. “Today, we average more than 70 visits a year to Head Starts, libraries and public school classrooms, we deliver free books to different schools each month for teachers to put in their classroom libraries and the Kiwanis Club of Greater Encinitas selects a teacher of the month to receive a $100 gift certificate for books.”

Born in Texas and raised in Oregon, Dr. Pike earned a Masters in Education at the University of Oregon and a Doctorate in Theater at Kent State University. He taught both grade school and high school in Cottage Grove, Oregon, college at Cascade College in Portland, Oregon and Malone College in Canton, Ohio. He retired in 1998, after teaching 18 years at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California.

Today, Pike operates on a theory based on a study by Science Direct.

"It has always been a given to me that books are vital to children's success in school,” Pike said. “I was thrilled to recently find a rigorous study by a reputable scientific community that corroborates my belief that the more books you find in the home the more likely the child will succeed in school. Since 2005, when I started keeping track, we have given away tens of thousands of free books. Our motivation to continue our literacy program is the strong belief that putting books in the hands of children will make a difference.

A recipient of many service awards and honors, Pike's hobbies include photography, woodworking, gardening, jewelry making and writing fiction. In addition to directing scores of plays, he has written, produced and directed a number of sketches and musicals during his teaching career including The Eighth from Adam and a modern allegory about Noah. He has written three novels and several children’s stories for his grandchildren. He currently writes Stories for Kids & Up for Country Traveler Online.

Pike lives in Encinitas California.

Read stories by Dr. Pike at Country Traveler Online.

Captain Book reading while
waiting to perform.

Applying makeup to become
Captain Book.

Building treasure chests.



Dear Kiwanis club

Thank you for these wonderful books. They are amazing. My favorite part is the castle page. It is amazing how a book can do that. I was so interested in it I read the whole book. It took a while but I read it all. My little sister even wanted one. I’m your number one fan. THANK YOU!!!!!

Sincerely, Your biggest fan

Donate :)

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The Kiwanis Club of Carlsbad is a chapter of Kiwanis Division 37