The power of a book is incredible in its simplicity. And in these difficult times, simple actions that bring joy are exactly what we need. That’s why our Child Welfare and Family Services Education Team started the Grab and Go Book Project: Feeding Minds and Bodies. This new initiative is designed to work in tandem with our Grab and Go meal distribution program to get books into the homes of school-aged foster youth and their families.
As kids are forced to stay home, they have faced an incredible array of challenges including the transition to virtual learning and finding the space needed to complete homework assignments in already tight quarters now filled with more people throughout the day than usual. During the course of their work, which now brings them into the home, the Education Team learned that most of the foster homes had very few books in them — some, not even a single book.
According to the New York City Department of Education, many city children are below proficiency in reading. Studies show that if a child is not reading on level by the end of third grade, the odds of him or her catching up is bleak. Reading has been linked to better grades, improved behavior, better attendance rates, and better overall success of a child. It’s true what they say—reading is fundamental.
The Grab and Go Book Project: Feeding Minds and Bodies program is currently in the donation-collection stage. Our Education Team has masked up and ventured out to pick up books from locations around the city, and is currently sorting and boxing them for distribution.
“We complemented this book hunt by requesting donations from various literature sources,” said Children’s Aid Director of Educational Achievement and Partnership, Dr. Brenda Triplett. “We were incredibly thrilled and grateful to have received over 7,500 books from Book Fairies and 1,000 from Hindi’s Libraries, two incredible organizations dedicated to spreading literature to children locally and globally.” On top of this, DRA Advisors LLC, Igloo Books, and several generous private donors also contributed to the initiative.
Why donate books to children? Dovid of Hindi’s Libraries (who started his organization in honor of his late wife who was a teacher and lover of books) put it best:
“Getting involved is so simple and yet the impact is so immediate. You don’t have to have money; all you need is a book that you got use out of and are ready for someone else to enjoy. And when it goes to a kid to read with a parent or caregiver, that magical bond builds along with all the power that goes into reading together. That child’s life is changed.”
Now that the team has a stockpile of books, their next steps include working with the Administration for Children’s Services and the Department of Education to begin distribution. “We plan to either direct mail or hand deliver to our 450 school-aged youth in foster care,” said Brenda. “We will also distribute books at our Grab and Go meal sites that have the highest concentration of youth in foster care or living in shelters.”
The Grab and Go Book Project: Feeding Minds and Bodies program shows that when organizations work together on one goal, magic happens. And now that will translate into some much-needed magic for New York City kids.