Give the Gift of Reading
For many of us, learning to read conjures up memories of trips to the library, curling up with a good book, and being read to by a caring adult. Unfortunately, for many of the children that AOC partnerships work with, access to good literature is limited. Many children do not have books at home and many classrooms have limited supplies of appropriate texts.
Many organizations work to remedy this situation and our group of volunteers at Trinity Church, Boston has been refining its use of an annual book drive to meet the needs of a local school. Now in its third year, our book drive has exceeded our expectations. When we began we hoped to provide every child in the school with a book to call their own. 525 books this year! As our book drive has evolved, we have not only been able to supply every child with a book, but we have been able to supply the books that the teachers would like their students to have. This detail is critical to the impact of the book drive in that it not only promises each child a piece of high-quality literature to keep, but it supplies the classroom teacher with a resource from which to teach. Because the school we support cannot afford to purchase a copy of a book for every student in a classroom, the teachers use our gift as a teaching tool with their students. In the younger grades the teachers often select titles that enhance the social curriculum of their classrooms. The added benefit of matching the appropriate book titles with the reading level of a student furthers our goal.
I think our volunteers would agree that the first step in creating a successful book drive is asking the teachers what do you need? This question honors them and acknowledges their daily efforts to teach children in less than ideal environments.
Another highlight of our book drive at Trinity was the engagement of a local bookseller who ordered all of the books for us and gave us a discount. This not only saved us money but guaranteed speed and accuracy of our order and let us give exposure to a small, local bookstore.
The stories that we have heard from the volunteers, teachers, and students are ones of warmth and gratitude. Teachers have reported that the children were proudly showing-off their books to each other on the school bus, volunteers were overwhelmed by the welcome they received as they dropped off a wrapped box of books to each classroom and the many generous donors at Trinity were delighted to see the book they were purchasing and know that they were making a difference in the life of a child.
Below, I have outlined the steps we have found to work well for running a book drive with your congregation.
Frances Robinson, Literacy Volunteer