More free books for kids: Portland, Oregon

Last month I blogged about giving away books to kids at our local food pantry. It’s been an effective way to encourage reading in kids of all ages, and provide parents and grandparents with books they can read with the children. All kids should have books of their very own. I wrote the post hoping to encourage others to get involved in getting books and children together.

As a former Portlander, I am pleased to report that there’s a group in that city dedicated to gathering books and giving them to disadvantaged kids. It’s called The Children’s Book Bank and they are currently concentrating on children under 6, when early habits are formed. They’re doing some creative stuff: one way they gather books is by inviting those who want to help, to have a book drive through their own organization, which could range from Boy Scouts to church to a business or hiking group. They also muster volunteers to help clean and mend books and bundle them up. If you live near Portland, visit their site and think about how you could help.

This offers one model for those who’d like to form an organization for the purpose, as well as for one-time group efforts to gather books and then donate them to some existing organization. I guarantee your community has organizations that would welcome clean usable children’s books. These would include Head Start programs, shelters (ones for women and children, or for homeless families, or for kids on the street), social agency waiting rooms, daycare facilities run by non-profits, Ronald MacDonald Houses, maybe the local Boys and Girls Club. If it’s a place that serves disadvantaged kids or families, they can probably find a good use for your kids’ outgrown books or books your group can gather in a book drive.

And, if you want to do something on your own, like I’ve been doing–showing up each week at the food pantry for 3 hours with a carful of books and two folding tables, I can attest to it being easy, well-received, and very rewarding. I’ve also gotten to read some great kids’ books as I sit by my tables!

Here is a figure from The Children’s Book Bank site:

“Two thirds of low-income families own no books for their children.”

Let’s all do something to change this, now!

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