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“Most teachers must help out their own classrooms by donating books, and that is what I've done today! I am in dire need of lower-level books that interest my struggling readers. Hopefully this will inspire others to give, too.”
--Public school teacher Mrs. Flowers after donating a book through BookMentors
The non-profit BookMentors has a simple mission statement: Connecting donors directly with students and teachers in need of books. Behind this simplicity belies a disgraceful truth: Children in our public schools are in dire need of books.
BookMentors’ website connects public school teachers seeking new books for their students with people who want to donate those books. “Donors don’t actually buy and mail the books. Instead, they pay for a book online, and the book is shipped directly to the school from the book vendor. If a teacher requests 20 copies of a book for a class, a donor can pay for one or all of them, or for any number in between.” --Harvard Ed. Magazine
Teachers in turn write donors thank you notes and post them directly on the website. This thank you illustrates the desperate need and the deep appreciation:
“Dear Ms. Porter: Thank you for your generous donation! Our books are literally falling apart and taped together. The kids were trying so hard to keep them from being destroyed and are so looking forward to the new copies! Thank you!”
BookMentors is all about giving new books, with new titles, that will excite children and in turn make lifetime readers out of them. It’s about giving books that reflect the population of their student body. As one African-American girl stated: “I don’t want to read another book about a white boy and his dog.” One public middle school in need of books is located in Noe Valley, a wealthy neighborhood in San Francisco with a house two blocks from the school recently selling for $7,000,000.
Kelly Ann Brown Foundation donated 24 copies of The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child by Francisco Jiménez. The teacher felt it would resonate with her mostly Latino/a student body. When KABF chair Debra Hannula read this teacher’s thoughtful thank you note, she was reduced to tears and reminded of just how many talented, caring, empathetic US public school teachers there are:
"Dear Kelly Ann Brown Foundation,
I just researched your foundation and was brought to tears, Kelly was one incredible human being and I can only hope that my students learn to exhibit the same character traits she had her whole life. I wish I had known her personally. Starting this foundation to carry on her good deeds and her vision seems a perfect way to celebrate her life. When I teach this novel, I will absolutely tell my kids about Kelly.
I cannot thank you enough for the class set of this novel. We read Maus, The Watsons Go to Birmingham, and Persepolis. This book is a must-read, it is very relevant for my school community, and it goes along with our social justice focus, which I know was important to her. Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to study this book together as a class, and thank you for creating this foundation in Kelly's name.
Click here to learn more about BookMentors.