ATLANTA — Shelving books and carrying full bags and boxes isn’t a chore for Children Read volunteers in Atlanta.
“We always need books,” said Children Read President Cindy Jaret.
For the former Pre-K teacher of 35 years, the work they do means the world.
“It’s a happy place,” Jaret said. “It’s a happy thing to do. Everything about it is happy.”
Every book stacked on their handmade cases is destined for a future book lover.
“We asked them sometimes, ‘Does anyone have books at home?’ And many of them will say ‘No, or they’ll say one or two,'” said Jaret of volunteer interactions with young students. “We tell them, ‘This is a chance for you to start your own library at home.’ And they get very excited about that.”
It all creates a wonderful feeling for volunteer and former elementary educator Marla Johnson as well.
“Donating books is, I think, one of the easiest things people can do to open the door for children to have so many more opportunities,” said Johnson.
The volunteers collect, clean and package books for low-income Pre-K students in DeKalb County and Atlanta Public Schools, as well as little readers in Sheltering Arms and Head Start daycares.
“When we go into the schools and we read to the classes– and then we bring in these bags of books and every kid gets a bag of five to seven books. And we say, ‘You get to take these home and keep them.’ Their faces just light up,” said Johnson.
Children Read founder Marlene Zeiler used to own a bookstore, Tall Tales Book Shop, and used her customer list to create Children Read, when she was ready for a new chapter in life.
“For me, the thrill was always to take the books to the schools and give the little kids a bag of books. It’s just such it’s a big deal,” said Zeiler.
In nearly 10 years, they’ve collected and donated more than 140,000 books to little learners who might otherwise have none.
“These children are our future and to give them the opportunity to learn about books, not just the stories, but that books are precious that they’re special and that you can learn things from books and you can be creative with books, it’s pretty nice,” said Jaret.
September is National Literacy Month, and this year, 11Alive is partnering with the local nonprofit Children Read, to get more books into young students’ hands.
All month long, we’ll be bringing you stories about the importance of early literacy and how a small donation from you, could change young lives.
Many students who struggle with reading in the third grade, remain poor readers in high school and are more likely to drop out of school, but you can make a difference.
Join us in supporting metro Atlanta’s youngest students by donating to our 11Alive book drive!