Book Access & Book Drives | Books Are Better Program
For so many families, November is really when we start our traditional "holiday" season; once Halloween is over, all the holiday decorations start going on sale. And while my children generally start clamoring for the latest and greatest tech gear or toy and circling items in the Sunday circular, they also start a long wish list for the newest book in a series they have been reading as well.
Did you know that many children don't have access to books? According to reports, 2/3 of families living in poverty in the U.S. (61%) have no children's books in their homes. While we like to think that because the library systems in our city are so plentiful, everyone must have a chance to go as frequently as our family does, that quite often isn't the case.
If you are homeless and living in a shelter, or even sharing a home with a relative, that means you don't have a permanent address. If you don't have a permanent address you can't check out books from the library, or if you are able to check out a book, you don't have a place to keep it. Fewer than half (48%) of young children in the U.S. are read to daily, and more than 13 million children under the age of 5 go to bed every night without a bedtime story. This may mean that in my daughter's kindergarten class, 34% of her friends have entered school without the basic language skills they need to learn to read.
Thankfully a group of moms, just like you and me, joined together with support from Parenting Magazine Mom Congress and partnership from Reach out and Read, and created a literacy support program known as "Books Make it Better." By using the toolkit created by the Books Make it Better team, you can launch your own book drive in your community or you can participate in a virtual book drive. This means you can donate books directly to ROaR by choosing from one of eleven different titles, or sponsor a child for the full five-year ROaR Program.
We know that if you want to run your own book drive the amazing support tools that we use through VolunteerSpot can make what might seem a daunting task run like a dream! There is probably a community center or family homeless shelter that would love a box of new or gently used books. Maybe your child's classroom or school honor society could be the ones to run the drive with your support, encouragement, and planning. And just think, in the virtual drive your donation might just be helping one of your child's classmates get their hands on a great book! Who doesn't love Goodnight Moon? Or The Tale of Peter Rabbit? And for $50 you can sponsor a child for an entire year. Wow! I'm willing to give up 10 chai tea latte's for that-and everyone know's how much I love a good chai tea latte this time of year!
You might live in a "literacy rich" community or school district. I'm fortunate that here in Louisville our school district has a dedicated mentoring and reading program created in partnership between our metro government and our public school system known as Every1Reads. The National Center for Family Literacy (and that amazing new program called Wonderopolis) makes its home here as well. And on October 6, 2011, an outstanding 2,184,155 of us just participated in the recent Jumpstart "Read for Record" campaign by reading Llama, Llama Red Pajama to children all over the United States. For so many, unfortunately, there is no access to a book, no literacy night, no Goodnight Moon.
As Maya Angelou said "Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him. "Help create a habit this holiday season. One book, one child. Because "Books Make it Better."
Myrdin Thompson has been a Louisville public school parent, volunteer & advocate since 2002. Was recognized by the White House as a "Champion of Change" (www.whitehouse.gov/champions)(April 2011); is the Arts Advocate Mentor for Mom Congress; was the KY Delegate for Parenting Magazine's 2010 Mom Congress, "Mom of the Moment", Parenting Magazine, School Years, March 2010; and a KaBOOM! Playmaker of the Month (June 2008). She has a MA in Renaissance Drama from CSUF.