Free Books for Children at the Pizza Parlor, Bakery, and Video Store
Minerley, Irene, The Christian Science Monitor
Studies show that the more often children are exposed to books, the better they will do at school. So when I was hired by my local school district to coordinate a preschool literacy project, I knew that I wanted to find as many ways as possible to get books into the hands of children and their parents.
Sure, we have a great bookstore and a supportive library in town, but these places are never as crowded as the local pizza store. And so began the idea of Book Swap Boxes.
The Book Swap Boxes are simply milk crates filled with used children's books in good condition. Children are invited to exchange one used book for another. The books are free and easily accessible. Best of all, children now see books in all their favorite locations around town. The Book Swap Box idea was easy to implement. I started by requesting donations from the local schools. Most parents were eager to get rid of outgrown books, and I received bags and boxes filled with great reading material. (My own three children had a wonderful time looking through all the books as they piled up in my entry hall.) After I filled the milk crates, I asked store owners and community groups that deal with children if they would like to host one of the Book Swap Boxes. I explained that the boxes were "self service" and would not entail extra work on their part. The response was extremely positive. Once all the Book Swap Boxes were in place, I publicized their locations in our local newspapers. I do find that I have to check up on the Swap Boxes occasionally. The box at the elementary school often gets extra donations while the pizza store box sometimes needs refilling. …