Kids Need Books
Kids Need Books began in the spring of 2016 with a conversation over coffee between Chuck Robinson, Ray Dellecker, Tim Farris, and me. From that initial meeting, KNB grew into a vibrant project that has delivered more than 131,000 free quality books into the hands and homes of underserved families throughout Whatcom County (WA).
Fallout from the ongoing pandemic and major challenges and changes in my life have prompted me to make a tough decision about Kids Need Books: I am stepping back and transitioning the program to the Bellingham Central Lions Club Books for Kids Program, overseen by Amber Becker. (A donation link is at the end of this blog. Please specify that your donation is for Books for Kids.)
It’s time to close the books on KNB and write a new chapter for a new endeavor.
I will be forever grateful for the profound impact KNB has had upon my life. Through the simple act of handing out books, I have met hundreds of amazing people of all ages—both at the giving and receiving ends of the book distributions. I’ve witnessed the transformation of young children who have learned to read as a result of supportive parents and a copious supply of KNB books. I’ve seen kids dramatically improve their reading ability—like the eight-year-old boy at Regency Park Apartments raised by a single dad. During the pandemic, KNB provided father and son with a weekly dose of leveled readers. Over a six-month period the boy’s reading level grew by three years. He moved from being seriously below grade level in his reading ability to being above grade level.
Over the past five and a half years a small army of KNB volunteers has collected, organized, and distributed books to hundreds of families. We’ve worked indoors and out—under the hot sun and driving rain. We’ve worked in church basements and school gyms, parking lots and playgrounds, trailer parks and apartment laundromats. We’ve set up our tables at satellite food banks, winter coat distributions, neighborhood block parties, youth book clubs, and community breakfasts. We’ve served people of color, undocumented folks, migrant worker families, and LGBTQ+ kids.
And throughout all of this, we volunteers have received more than we have given. We have heard the stories of amazingly resilient individuals. We’ve learned how parents of little means work unceasingly to provide the best opportunities for their children. We’ve witnessed how underserved families are models of gratitude and generosity. In the end, we’ve discovered how wonderful our community can be when we join together to help one another.