I alluded briefly in the mid-February Children's Literacy and Reading News Roundup to what I did for International Book Giving Day on February 14th. Today, inspired by a call for stories from Zoe Toft at Playing by the Book, I'd like to share my actions in a bit more detail.
First of all, I bought two books for my daughter (Baby Bookworm) who will be three in April. I bought her Stephen Savage's Where's Walrus? (a book that I had wanted since reading it for Round 1 for the Cybils last year), and Peggy Rathman's The Day the Babies Crawled Away (which I thought she would like because she is obsessed with books about babies). Turns out that she quite likes Where's Walrus? (I even featured it among her recent favorites), but is indifferent to The Day the Babies Crawled Away. Not enough color to the illustrations, perhaps... To be honest, I also bought her a puzzle for Valentine's Day, and that was the biggest hit of all. Ravensburger frame puzzles are a recent obsession of hers.
For International Book Giving Day, I also purchased two other books, and I believe that those will have a much greater long-term impact. Through a new nonprofit, BookMentors, I was able to donate two copies of The Pigeon Wants a Puppy by Mo Willems to a first grade classroom at an elementary school in a high poverty area of Lowell, MA. I did this during a beta phase of BookMentors, and the nice thank you note that teacher Ms. Linehan sent me is no longer visible. But you can view the fulfilled request here.
Here's a bit more about BookMentors, from their website:
"BookMentors is a nonprofit that connects teachers and students who need books with donors who want to give books. BookMentors is also a community of readers, writers, teachers, and publishers interested in sharing information about children's and young adult literature."
I think it will take some time for BookMentors to develop as a community, but I think it's a nice idea. Teachers who want particular books can request them. People like me who are interested in donating books can select from the requests, and donate (via PayPal) from the comfort of our own homes. You don't ship the books directly yourself - you pay and BookMentors ships them.
Because of shipping costs, and a bit of a cut towards overhead, the books that I sent via BookMentors were slightly more expensive than they would have been if I had purchased them directly from Amazon. And certainly BookMentors is more expensive than using something like ARCs Float On, which allows me to donate books that I already have in my possession. But for me, there's real value to a) knowing about specific books that teachers are seeking for their particular classrooms and b) not having to go to the post office to send them out. So far, 47 books have been donated to classrooms through BookMentors. Two of those were mine, donated on February 14th for International Book Giving Day.
Happy as I always am to buy books for Baby Bookworm, I'm quite certain that the books that I sent through BookMentors will have a much greater overall impact.
This post © 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.