Monday, April 7, 2014

Oh, the Wonder of Books! *Plus, our First FREE Interactive Project!*

After spending hours of research on this project, I've concluded that there is no one way to make a difference in the world of literacy. I knew I was going to run into this problem eventually, I just didn't realize it would be so soon! Most of my projects start with addressing the issue at hand; figuring out a craft that will have a direct and positive effect on said problem. Since Niki approached me about collaborating between our two organizations (Poetry Solves Problems & ITLT -- check out the previous post for more info), the craft was an afterthought. A fun activity that accompanied our real efforts, but an afterthought nonetheless.

The reality of the situation is that kids need books. What I've tried to do here is outline a number of things you can do to make a difference. Which one works best for you?
If you want to organize a book drive, it would help a lot do a tiny bit of research first in order to find out your local situation*. And check out the ALA fact sheet! You may be able to donate to a library directly OR you may find an organization that will sort your books and facilitate the delivery to a school, shelter, or organization in need. In Los Angeles, I organized a book drive through BookEnds (also in previous post). You want to be sure to adhere to any and all requirements and procedures. These were super helpful guidelines from BookEnds:

...and it's great to share WHY donating gently used books is so important. Here's what I circulated via social media in the weeks leading up to the book drive:


If you want to donate books, you can request that friends bring them to your next party! In lieu of birthday presents, ask for books. Consider for the following events:
  • Holiday parties
  • Graduation parties
  • Commitment ceremonies
  • Anniversaries
  • Retirement celebrations
  • Baby Showers
  • Bat/Bar Mitzvahs


If you want to make bookmarks, we found this was a GREAT way to supplement a book donation. Pre-made packets of bookmarks are sold at education supply stores (35 for less that $3) so this is an AWESOME activity to do with a classroom or a group. Find some inspiration quotes or whip up your own witty sayings, and get creative! Try to stick to flat materials (washi tape, stickers, glitter, etc) and avoid 3D ones (foam stickers, thick string, buttons, etc.) so the bookmarks can lie flat without indenting the books. Also, it might be a good idea to laminate your bookmark so keep it in tip-top shape! (Examples of bookmarks can be found in previous post)

it's the little things WILL MAIL A *FREE* BOOKMARK

Please include your full name and mailing address.
You will be sent one white bookmark, unless more or colors are requested-- 
will do my best to accommodate!
All you need to do is email me and save a stamp for a return envelope.  |  Subject title: ITLT Bookmark

Check out Little Free Libraries! It's basically the tiniest kind of library for your community. Build, order, or sponsor a book box and encourage people to "take a book, return a book." I love it because it's a little thing that can make such a big difference.

If you are a teacher, I found this to be a fantastic list of 25 ways to support reading. There are several incredibly clever and fun ideas to promote independent reading, so be sure to check it out and incorporate at your school!

And finally, if you don't have time to get hands on this round, Everyday Advocacy provides simple and effective ways for anyone to make a difference in their library community. They have step-by-step ways you can "be informed, engage, get inspired, share your story, and speak out." Take action!

Leave a comment with the method that works best for you! 
I'd love to hear what you end up doing :)
Resources: American Library Association, American Libraries Magazine, Children's Book Project, Books for Kids, Los Angeles Public Library, Library Foundation of Los Angeles, Reach Out and Read, Raising a Reader, Room to Read, Learning Unlimited LLC, IBBY Children in Crisis Fund, Little Free Library, Everyday Advocacy

*Here is quick reference guide of a few five-star literacy charities (rated on Charity Navigator, borrowed from in "Charities That Give Books and Promote Literacy")
  • Reading is Fundamental RIF supports literacy programs nationwide and aims to put books in the hands of underprivileged children in America. Sadly, in recent years, Congress decimated their budget.
  • Books for Africa‘s self professed goal is to “end the book famine in Africa.” Books for Africa is on Charity Navigator’s list of 10 Top Notch Charities, with almost all of the funds going towards program expenses. It only takes 50 cents to send a book to Africa.
  • First Book serves schools and libraries in underprivileged areas and delivers new books to children in need in the US and Canada.
  • The Pajama Program gives the gift of sleepwear and a bedtime book to children, with a large portion of donations going to children who have been, or are waiting to be, adopted.
  • Raising a Reader does more than just distribute books. Through nationwide programs, it works closely with children and their parents to help them develop literacy strategies like teaching them read aloud and communication techniques.
  • Room to Read focuses on literacy and gender equality in education in ten countries in Asia and Africa. One of my favorite things they do is promote the education of girls. As they state on the website, “Educating girls and women is widely acknowledged as the most powerful and effective way to address global poverty.”
  • Reach Out and Read serves at-risk children and “is an evidence-based nonprofit organization of medical providers who promote early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud.”
  • Oxfam America earmarks donations to provide children in developing countries with much needed school books.