By: Heather Rowlison
Imagine, not being able to read the words in front of you. It comes so easy because it was something you learned at a young age. Reading, whether through book programs, parents reading to you as a child or through your school’s library, it was a privilege that you may have had full access to.
Now imagine going to your school library as a child and looking at empty shelves or a limited number of books. One organization in Chicago works to combat this issue by gathering gently loved books from around the city and to provide them to schools with barren libraries.
Books First is an organization started by a group of moms who saw the need of school supplies after the teacher’s strike in 2012.
“We realized that there were some schools severely struggling with not having libraries and that the kids who attended them may not have access to proper reading material.” Bernadette Pawlik, one of the founding mothers of Books First, tells Rose Phillips.
Books First has been able to provide over 60,000 books to students in twenty-two different Chicago schools. Since 2012 they have been able to help over 7,000 students in the city. They do this by setting up drop off locations for people to drop off books and by having printable flyers on their website
“I didn’t really realize that there were schools that didn’t have books or kids that went to school hungry or that didn’t have supplies, because this one has two of everything” Bernadette tells us as she motions to her son sitting next to her.
Looking to get involved but not sure how? Books First has many options for people looking to get involved. It can be as simple as printing up a single flyer at your local hangout or coffee shop, or collecting books at a drive. For people looking to jump feet first you can look into setting up your own drop-off center. In-fact their website has a tab about ways to get involved in the time you personally have.
“It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to be organized, it doesn’t have to cost much” Bernadette explains. “but that coat you give to a child could mean that they get to go to school that day.”
And what a better place to go than a school with a full library? Books First provides assistance for those schools which will then directly affect the lives of the students. In a world where 80% of juvenile inmates are illiterate, the need of books proves to be necessary; because you can’t read without having books available.
To learn more about how to get involved with Books First visit their website www.booksfirstchicago.org