Nowadays, we are even more likely to be among the exceptions. More and more children do not have or see books at home. So they can't take them for granted.
Of course, some people might immediately think the dwindling book supply can easily be dismissed because it relates to digital publishing. But that's not what I'm talking about. I mean that some children have no access to books at home, in any form.
The number of books at home is often a precursor to reading achievement.
According to the Family Scholarly Culture and Educational Success, one recent literacy study conducted by researchers in Nevada and California shows that the number of books in a home directly predicts a child’s reading achievement. In fact, children growing up in homes with many books tend to attain three years more schooling than children from bookless homes.
The study suggests this is true regardless of their parents’ education and profession. More books trumps parental achievement.
While a lack of books at home in upper-income families may be a choice, the barrier for low-income families is price. The National Center for Education Statistics, the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations, reports that nearly two-thirds of low-income American families do not own any books for their children.
Milk + Bookies turns the tables on bookless homes.
One Los Angeles mom, Meredith Alexander, noticed this problem too. But rather than file it away as an interesting statistic, she decided to do something about it. She founded Milk + Bookies in 2004.
Milk + Bookies is a national nonprofit organization that exposes young children to how great it feels to give back while celebrating their love of a good book. It took some time before the organization took off, but eventually it became a formidable 501 c 3.
The organization does much more than collect books and then distribute them to underprivileged children. It also blends philanthropy, literacy, and service learning. The concept is sound: providing a gift can be just as powerful for a donor as it can be for a recipient. It's especially true when the donors are children too.
It starts simply enough. A family hosts a Milk + Bookies birthday party in place of a traditional one. The birthday child, who probably doesn’t really need 20 new toys (he or she might be just as happy with the few from his parents) invites their friends to the party. Rather than requesting toys, they ask their peers to bring a new hardcover book in place of a gift.
At the party, guests inscribe bookplates (possibly sharing the reason they chose a specific book), affixing them in each book they’ve brought. The books are then donated to an organization that will be responsible for putting them into the hands of children in need right in the birthday child’s community.
The events aren't limited to birthday parties. Teens and college students can just as easily host an event at a bookstore or as a class project. In some cases, teens can even earn community service hours. The event host frequently supplies milk and cookies while others might solicit additional funds using Milk + Bookies donation letters.
The power of putting books in the right hands.
“It’s what we should be teaching our children, to use their imaginations instead of staring into a TV all the time,” says actor Josh Holloway, who is a long-time supporter of Milk + Bookies.
Recently, he spent time reading to children at Milk + Bookies’ March 2011 Second Annual Story Time Celebration at Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. The even collected more than 3,000 books that will be donated to children in the foster care system.
Holloway wasn't the only participant. Jack Black read to children at the event and brought along his son Sammy. Other supporters include Jennifer Garner, David Grohl (Foo Fighters), Chris Pine, Rainn Wilson, Jason Biggs, Marlon Wayans, Maya Rudolph, and Jim Carrey. The organization has also attracted the attention of corporate partners such as Scholastic, DreamWorks Studios, Gap, Simon & Schuster, Porsche, and City National Bank.
Milk + Bookies Is A Good Will Pick by Liquid Hip.
At least once a month, Liquid [Hip] highlights good will efforts undertaken by courageous people with big hearts. We don’t score them. That belongs to you.
We picked Milk + Bookies because more than 4,285 youth philanthropists have learned that picking up books and then sharing them with children who don't have books at home can make a difference. Together, these literacy champions have collected more than 21,500 books for children in need.
Even better, the success of these events is not contingent on having Jack Black turn out to read. Milk + Bookies events are best when future philanthropists reinforce their love for reading while helping others to discover literacy and education too. Milk + Bookies has several ideas on how to manage any event: birthday parties, class projects, specialty events. And if an event seems like more than you want to do, visit the organization's shop & donate page.