Books for Keeps (BFK) is a non-profit organization based in Athens, Georgia that works to improve children’s reading achievement by breaking the barriers related to the accessibility and appeal of reading material. This is done by giving books to children who have limited reading opportunities outside of school due to income, geography or other factors. Since 2009, BFK has given over 250,000 books to children from low-income families, varying from grades Pre-K through 12. And this May, another 72,000 will be added to that growing number.
The book distribution is an annual event that BFK preps for 11 months out of the year. The members of the non-profit collect, inspect, sort and box books, all to be given away for free throughout the month of May. “We’re helping the kids build home libraries and ensuring they have access to the same things their more affluent peers have,” said Leslie Hale, executive director of Books for Keeps. Books that will be provided to students are accumulated through community donations, local book drives and by purchases from publishing companies. Any books that can’t be used are sold at an annual BFK Book Sale each August.
BFK’s primary program is a research-based effort to end what is known as “summer slide,” which is the learning loss suffered by many children and young adults when they are away from school. This especially effects children from low-income families, often due to a lack of access to books because of financial or transportation reasons. This summer slide results in many low-income children falling nearly three grade-levels behind the reading capabilities of their peers. This gap is so insurmountable, that it could negatively affect chances of graduating high school.
BFK is, at its heart, a grassroots effort to get books into the hands of children who may not otherwise have easy access to them. The focus of the organization lies primarily in their attempt to “even the playing field” by giving students of all socioeconomic backgrounds the same opportunities to increase reading competency throughout the summer. “We will visit 15 different schools throughout the month and make sure each child in those schools goes home with twelve new books that they can read over the summer,” Hale said. Approximately 6,000 students total will participate in the event this year.
If you’re interested in joining or helping to spread Books For Keeps mission, you can do so by volunteering, donating books, donating funds, becoming a sponsor, hosting a book drive, or spreading the word.
YouTube Channel: Leslie Hale
Featured image via Books For Keeps