Thursday, October 18, 2012

First Book in the San Gabriel Valley

"Bookworm" by ajeynes
Wonder what it’s like for a child in poverty to receive his or her very own first book? I do. Back in the summer of 2007, some coworkers and I volunteered to read to children at the Greater Watts Childcare Center. (I blogged about this a long time ago, actually!) On the final day we participated, we helped the staff hand out books, backpacks, and school supplies. The children were ecstatic! They were used to books. The center was filled with them. But this time they got to keep the books as their very own!

When I learned about First Book, I was ecstatic. Here was an organization completely dedicated to providing “access to new books for children in need.” With dozens of regional all-volunteer advisory boards sifting through available children’s literature, “First Book has distributed more than 90 million books” throughout the United States. What’s rather surprising though is the fact that, out of nine advisory boards located in California, none serves impoverished children in the San Gabriel Valley. I took that as a sign, and contacted the organization about forming one.

Right now the First Book – San Gabriel Valley Advisory Board is still in its developmental stage. There’s a multi-step application to get it approved, and the first step is to find willing and able volunteers. I’m hoping to launch a big ad campaign in local newspapers, magazines, and maybe even ratio and television stations to generate interest. The advisory board needs to be made up of diverse individuals, reflecting the professional and cultural composition of the target community, who can brainstorm ideas on how to raise funds, select books, and select recipient groups. If there’s anyone else concerned about illiteracy, your help in building this team would be greatly appreciated. If you’re located in the SGV area and interested in participating, please send me an email. And any donations – definitely appreciated! – will be directed towards advertisement. (Please note that, right now, they wouldn’t be officially to First Book and, therefore, not tax-deductible. However, I’ll make sure that any early supporters are recognized. If the advisory board isn’t approved, remainder funds will be donated to First Book.) Thanks!