AmeriCorps VISTA Sadie Borowski talks about the important work of Make Way for Books.
Make Way for Books has been serving the families of Tucson for 17 years. The mission: give all children the chance to read and succeed. Each year Make Way for Books serves more than 30,000 children and families by providing evidence based programming that supports early literacy skills. These skills are crucial for children entering kindergarten if they are to be reading on target level by third grade. Children who are not reading at grade level by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. Make Way for Books empowers children and families by igniting a love for books while improving future educational outcomes for children.
The Blue Book House Project is one of many programs at Make Way for Books that gets books into the hands of children who need them most. The Blue Book House Project builds blue book shelves and places them in the waiting rooms of public and social service organizations. 34 Blue Book Houses are scattered throughout our community in areas with the highest need for resources: food banks, health clinics and parent resource organizations make up the majority of our project sites. Children and families are encouraged to pick out a book and read together while waiting for services and are invited to take the book home to keep. This project encourages families to read together, allows them to build their home libraries, and provides opportunities to practice early literacy skills that are so important for later educational outcomes.
We collect donations of new and gently used children’s books to stock our shelves. Local schools and organizations host book drives to sustain our ongoing need for books. The books are counted, sorted, cleaned and packed up to be distributed out to our project host sites. Volunteers from around the community then deliver the books to our project sites. Recently, Discover Books, an organization that “puts books in motion, not in storage”, has donated over 3,000 pounds of children’s books to our project. While we do have a waiting list for the Blue Book House Project (pending donations, volunteers and construction of shelves) this HUGE donation has allowed us to start providing books to more than just our 34 sites.