In response to COVID-19, schools across Los Angeles will remain closed through the end of the academic year. In the best of times, children in the communities we serve have very limited access to books. These are not the best of times.
Access Books and The Book Foundation have launched a campaign to secure thousands of new, high-quality books for all grade levels that will help with student learning activities as well as books with themes that will bring readers some measure of joy and comfort.
This donation is critical. Recently, a principal at a South Los Angeles elementary school wrote to let us know what a book donation would mean for her students:
"Now, more than ever, our students need access to books. In many of the communities we serve, the only books children have are the books our schools provide for them. With schools closed, our students are missing out on the opportunity to have rich literary experiences. Most of our families also do not have access to technology, so there is no platform for access. Books donated to students would greatly help schools in our efforts to continue the learning at home and to provide our students with the literary experiences they deserve."
Books purchased through this campaign will go directly to high-need students across Los Angeles County and students served by select Los Angeles Unified School District Grab-and-Go centers located in underserved communities.
Help us reach our goal of $50,000. Text (844) 618-0582 and type "give" or donate below – 100% of the proceeds will be used to buy new books for children.
We are also seeking volunteers for book distribution sites. Click below to see opportunities currently available.
In addition to cash donations, we are accepting new and gently used books appropriate for grades K-9 (no adult books). These books are for pleasure reading -- absolutely no textbooks, encyclopedias, or activity books. Additional guidelines:
Our superstar "Artist in Residence" and longtime volunteer, Claire Freedman, made this video showcasing our murals. She's such a visionary and asset to our organization. Thanks for your years of service, Claire!
Access Books partnered with the LA Times to create this bilingual guide for parents and educators.
The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the largest book and storytelling festival in the country, has announced Access Books as its official charitable partner. The Times is challenging readers and festival-goers to help Access Books raise $100,000 to fund the transformation of at least four school libraries in underserved communities in Los Angeles. The Times’ Reading by 9 fund will match all donations up to $100,000. Access Books will update the libraries to create more comfortable and welcoming environments, as well as paint murals and provide new books and supplies.
Research shows that the best predictor of reading ability is access to books, and when it comes to schools serving communities with high poverty rates, having a quality library for students is especially important.
Access Books is a volunteer-run organization dedicated to transforming school libraries in Los Angeles’ most underserved neighborhoods. Each library served receives thousands of new, quality books, a new coat of paint, and dozens of literacy-themed murals that make the library more inviting. This year, Access Books is excited to celebrate the transformation of our 300th library and 1.7 million books given!
The Los Angeles Times and Access Books will work together on a variety of literacy-themed events throughout the year associated with Reading by 9, including the annual reading guide. The Los Angeles Times and Access Books will focus their partnership on increasing literacy among children by funding the purchase of new books and refurbishing more school libraries in communities that need it most.
Access Books is working in Puerto Rico on April 8th & 9th, 2019! As you know, the need for quality books and libraries is not isolated to California. We are partnering with the San Felipe Humanitarian Alliance, a California based family foundation, and a local organization in Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Rise Up, to refurbish two school libraries. If funding permits, we will provide books for a local Boys’ and Girls’ Club.
After Hurricane Maria, Escuela Inés María Mendoza became a receptor school, which means it absorbed students from schools unable to open after the hurricane. It is located in a low-income community in the metropolitan area of Puerto Rico, approximately 30 minutes from Old San Juan. It currently has over 1000 students from 18 months old, PK, and K-12. It has the highest number of enrolled children and serves an area with 93% of the families under the poverty level. Before the hurricane they did not have enough books. Now the need is more urgent than ever.
Escuela Francisco Jordán serves grades K-9 and is located in the mountain community of Utuado, which was devastated during Hurricane Maria. This school has become central to the community, absorbing three additional schools and serving as a local hub for a range of resources. The effects of the hurricane are still ever present.
Boys and Girls Club de Arecibo is one of the few places children can go in their under-resourced area. The Club serves children from 7-14 years old, but has few books. We would like to put in shelving, paint a mural, and provide age appropriate books.
Please consider donating to support Puerto Rico's struggling school libraries -- 100% of funds raised will be used to purchase books.
Other Ways to Help
Donate plane tickets for our muralists. United, Jet Blue, and Southwest fly to San Juan. Email email@example.com to arrange.
JOIN US!!! You will see urban Puerto Rico as well as the rain forest mountain area. We will work on Monday, April 8th and Tuesday, April 9th. If we are able, we will also spend a day at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club.
You are responsible for transportation to San Juan. Housing will be arranged with local families for the days we are working at the schools. Puerto Rico Rise Up will also help find affordable lodging if you would like to stay extra days. There are plenty of hotel rooms in San Juan. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in volunteering. All volunteers will sign a liability sheet for the days we are working.
Big thanks to LA librería, an LA-based Spanish language book company that will be donating books to support this cause!
Watch an interview with AB's founder, Rebecca Constantino, as the library at Aldama Elementary in Highland Park is transformed.
"The greatest predictor of literacy for children living in poverty is the quality of their school library"
Watch Access Books volunteers makeover the library at 93rd Street Elementary on People TV's "Shelf Life."
Rebecca Constantino is saving one library at a time
Our humble leader is featured as this week's CNN hero! Watch the video and learn more about what drives Rebecca Constantino to revitalize school libraries across Los Angeles. "Access Books is a team effort," she says. "We also have an amazing army of volunteers. None of this would be possible without their support." Donate to the Access Books "Hero" campaign here.