(STORM LAKE, IA) For many people the Christmas season isn't the same without a visit to Santa Claus. It's the perfect time for kids to tell Santa exactly what they want for the holiday.
At Santa's Castle in Storm Lake, Santa's giving gifts a little early -- expanding children's imaginations one book at a time.
If you celebrate Christmas then you probably remember at least one time you've told Santa what you so desperately wanted for the holiday.
And in the past you may have left with a candy cane or a piece of chocolate but what about a book? And not just any book, one signed by the big man himself -- Santa Claus.
"When they come up, we'll ask them there name and age and we'll say, To Bob, from Santa. And hopefully the kids will learn to spell their name by doing this," said Santa Claus.
But the wish is that they'll learn much more than that.
"The educational factor is just phenomenal compared to a candy cane or a trinket. A trinket they're going to either lose or play with for 5 minutes and not really care about and it's the gift that keeps on giving," said Rob Hott, Santa's Castle President.
Santa's Castle in Storm Lake started a partnership with Better World Books in 2011, an organization out of Indiana, that donates books across the world. Fitting since Saint Nick also travels the world leaving gifts for kids.
"We love to share books with anybody that needs them," said Barbara Coyle, the Donations Coordinator for Better World Books.
So like the elves would for Santa, Coyle and her team got busy. The first two years were so successful, Santa's Castle ran out.
Santa's Castle gets books throughout the year. The first shipment this year was 2,000 of them. But because there were so many, the table that held them broke which meant Santa Claus had to come up with a new storage plan.
"When I had called him and said Look we have about 5,000 Christmas books for you this year he was very excited and I was so happy to send them," said Coyle.
An interesting fact about Santa's Castle is this building used to be Carnegie Library where people would come and check out books. Ironically Santa's castle is doing the same thing once again.
Santa will be handing out books all week. The hours of operation are listed on the Castle's facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Santas-Castle-Storm-Lake-Iowa/130276727026292