A few weeks ago, my friend Ann Braden — author of the forthcoming MG novel The Benefits of Being an Octopus — did something pretty amazing. Inspired by a blog post from Donalyn Miller and moved by a flurry of tweets from educators expressing frustration, sadness, and even fear about the fact that their students were soon leaving school for summer break and wouldn’t have any books to read until they returned in the fall, Ann picked through her shelves and put together a stack of books that she was willing to part with. Educators interested in the books simply needed to retweet Ann’s tweet in order to enter the giveaway.
I saw Ann’s tweet, and was inspired to do what I could to help. That same night, I went home and put together a stack of my own. All the books were ones that I had read and enjoyed, even loved, and that I had purchased with the intent of having them on my shelves forever. But as soon as I considered the fact that there were a tremendous number of young readers out there who, for one reason or another, were facing the prospect of being book-less all summer long, it wasn’t very hard to part with even the most beloved of these books.
The next day, a couple more authors joined Ann and me. And the day after that, there were a handful more. Ann had got the ball rolling — and pretty soon the thing was just racing along. Up to a dozen new stacks were offered on every one of the following days. As of this post, nearly 90 authors have joined our little movement, and well over a hundred stacks of books have been given away. And these stacks were by no means small. Some contained 20 or even 30 books. Officially, the #KidsNeedBooks crew has given away over 500 books. But a huge number of books have been shipped out unofficially, and by my estimate, we’re closer to 1,000. (Below are the stacks I’ve so far given.)
As wonderful as this has all been, it is, sadly, not nearly enough. Our country is riddled with so-called “book deserts,” but all of us authors behind #KidsNeedBooks are committed to doing everything we can to continue flooding these places with books. We have been and are looking forward to working more closely with educators and librarians in a number of ways and on a number of projects, not only to get books into their students’ hands, but also to connect and engage with kids in other ways. As I’ve said before, kid lit authors and educators are colleagues, all of us united in our mission to enhance and enrich the lives of kids. When we work together, we can do more, and do it better.
Click here and here to read more about #KidsNeedBooks at Ann’s website. Click here to read coverage of the #KidsNeedBooks movement in the School Library Journal. And click here to sign up for the #KidsNeedBooks newsletter, through which we’ll keep you updated on our activities and alert you to opportunities to get involved.