Kids Need BooksKids Need Books hands out free books to disadvantaged Whatcom County Families in the belief that literacy can build a bridge from poverty to prosperity
What We Do
Kids Need Books (KNB) hands out new and gently used books to Whatcom County families. KNB was founded in the summer of 2016 to fight the summer slide—the academic decline commonly experienced by low-income students during their time away from school and books. We soon discovered that local families were hungry for quality reading material and the program evolved into a year-round effort.
Where We Operate
KNB has given out over 96,000 books. Distributions take place at the weekly satellite food banks at Alderwood Elementary School and Christ the King Church, and at other sites, including the Deming Foothills Food Bank, the Agape Project in Lynden (for migrant worker families), migrant work camps, community block parties, school literacy festivals, and after school Latino book clubs.
Who We Are
KNB has no paid staff. Joe Nolting—KNB’s coordinator—taught middle school for 30 years in Alaska and is passionate about reading and literacy. He oversees acquiring, organizing, storing (mostly in his garage), and handing out books. A core group of a dozen volunteers assists with the regular book distributions.
Where we get our books
About 80% of our books are donated by Village Books, the Assistance League, local book clubs, the Friends of the Bellingham Library, and generous congregations within the Interfaith Coalition.
We also purchase books that are rarely donated, including board books for infants, and bilingual books (Spanish/English and Russian/English). We also buy dictionaries and flashcards to teach basic vocabulary and math skills.
What we hope to achieve
One of the primary goals of KNB is to grow the home libraries of low-income families. Research indicates that children who grow up in a home with a library of over a hundred books are likely to successfully complete high school and pursue a college education.
How we impact the community
Recently, a volunteer coordinator from the Alderwood neighborhood stated, “Kids Need Books has fundamentally changed the reading culture of our neighborhood.”
Kids Need Books is back! We’ve handed out more than 3000 books over the last four weeks at a time when local kids need books more than ever. Our distribution model is not the same—no pop-up food banks for now—but we are adapting to working safely during the pandemic:...
Kids Need Books is sidelined until the COVID-19 crisis abates. In the meantime, here's a story from last year. The temperature hovered at the freezing mark and ghostly tendrils of morning fog floated above the hemlocks and cedars. I eased my car in front of St....
Kids Need Books is sidelined until the COVID-19 crisis abates. In the meantime, here's a story from last summer. The noon sun bakes the church grounds in Lynden. Leaves on the cottonwood trees are motionless in the still air. Although the outdoor food bank will not...
“Your book distribution has fundamentally changed the reading culture of the Alderwood
“Until last month we were homeless. We don’t have much, but now we have books!”
“My fifth-grade daughter was way behind in reading, but has caught up and is moving ahead
thanks to the books you kind people have given her.”
“Thanks for the books each week. It’s making a big difference in our family.”
“Mira, Mamá, un libro en Español! Now you can read to me just like you always wanted!”
“I’ve picked up books here for my eight grandchildren and now I’ve started handing them out to the neighbor kids. Lots of kids in our area have started reading. We appreciate what you’re doing.”
“Jacob has been reading books from KNB since he was three. Now he’s in the first grade and is
reading at the fifth-grade level. Thank you!”
“I will wrap this up as soon as I get home. Now I have a gift for my sister’s baby shower. I am so
“This dinosaur book is perfect for my 17-year-old special needs boy. He’ll love it.”
“Your group is doing such good work. My grandkids have become strong readers and are doing better in school because of the books I get here every week. Every week for the past three
“We read the book over and over. By the time his mama got home from work, he was able to
tell her the names of all the planets. She was so proud of him!”
“Mama, may we read in the car or do we have to wait until we get home? Please may we read
in the car?”
Donate to Kids Need Books
Your donation will help Kids Need Books purchase books that are rarely donated, including board books for infants, and bilingual books (Spanish/English and Russian/English).