Big Ugly Community Center
The Family Library Project
Project Description: The Family Library Project helps get books of high interest to particular kids and their families in their homes. Did you know, 68% of low income households have no age appropriate books for their children?
What we do:
- Survey kids and the parents about book interests
- Do book drives or raise $ to get books to fit those interests to give out
- Hold special family nights around particular books or authors
- Hold book fairs where kids can both pick their own books and pick out books they would like to give to their parents
How the project got started: It doesn’t have to cost anything as if you do local book drives (at places of business, through your school, church, etc.) you can get books for free, although its nice to have money to get special books. Book drives take only a few hours to set up a box at a business or school or church. Surveying takes about a half hour per child. Family nights can be as simple (simple book tables) or as elaborate (picking a theme and developing a craft to go with it) as you like.
5 steps to start this project:
- Figure out what group of kids you want to work with and survey them. If there is an existing group gathering parents (PTA, PTO, Circle of Parents, Head Start parents group, an after school program or Title 1 parent outreach effort) that is a great place to start.
- Contact potential book drive locations or resources (church, local business, or school). Add the kinds of books you most want to the flyers and wish list. (Libraries also discard books and you can be first in line for those books)
- Piggy back on an existing structure for a family night with one of the above mentioned groups or organize your own.
- Pick a particular author or book to highlight and organize a craft activity (many authors and books have web sites with suggestions for these, but also just improvise—for Where the Wild Things Are, have kids use a shoe or other small box to make their own Wild Things Island and organize your family night as a rumpus)
- Follow up to find out if parents or kids have grown their interests and want new and different kinds of books.
What did you learn? Hands on and discussion activities make all the difference in a community event. Lots of people are ready to donate books if given the opportunity.
Did you have a “A-Ha or Light Bulb” Moment? Start people out talking one to one or in very small groups. In that setting almost anyone will remember a story or a book or a character they love. People do not like to be put on the spot in large groups.
What was the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? Getting over people thinking they are not readers. If you go back far enough most people have a memory of a story they loved.
What resources, videos, websites helped you put your project/strategy together?
…parents and grandparents? In family nights, as people to be interviewed about book interests and as people students can pick out books to give to, reading aloud
…students? Asking them about their book interests, writing letters or making posters about books they love, reading aloud to younger kids
…teachers and support staff? They will make book recommendations. They can also write letters or be subjects of miniposters on books they love
…principal/administrators? Interview them about their favorite books; get permission to do a book drive
…business/labor/community partners? Ask them to put a book drive box out. Ask them to host a book club event
How have you engaged the following partners in your strategy?
…parents and grandparents? Church bulletin announcements & Coalition announcements
…students? Meeting them before sessions began to get them excited
…teachers and support staff? Phone conversations and faculty announcements
…principal/administrators? Phone conversations and face to face meetings
…business/labor/community partners? Newspaper article and Coalition buy-in