Family Focus: ‘9 Books for Kids’ partners with nonprofit to collect books for the community

CHARLOTTE — Channel 9 has partnered with nonprofit Promising Pages to collect new and gently used books that will go back to the community to help families build home libraries.

One of the places those donations go are the new “Bookseed Program” that brings books into affordable housing communities.

Kelly Cates with Promising Pages said it’s all part of an effort to expand home libraries and resources for children.

“We have about 60,000 children living in a book desert, which is about 10 or less books in each home, and it’s a lacking resource, right? Kids need books in order to do well in school, and if you don’t have books in your home, how are you supposed to practice being a great reader,” said Cates.

Reporter Elsa Gillis visited one of the affordable housing apartments where the program launched, and that’s where she met two parents who were thrilled to have the opportunity to bring books home to their children.

Twin brothers Desjuan and Daequan Bennett have four young kids at home between the two of them, and they said the Bookseed Launch came at a perfect time.

Daequan Bennett’s 4-year-old daughter isn’t even in school yet, but he sees the program as an opportunity to get her started earlier.

“She always likes books, so now I have some to read to her,” said Daequan Bennett.

The two parents were all smiles as they filled up their baskets with books to surprise their children.

“My oldest daughter...I got a letter a couple days ago. She’s having trouble in her reading class, so now I have books so I can read to her at night and also have her read to me as well,” said Desjuan Bennett.

Promising Pages said this is the fourth affordable housing community where they’ve launched the program. Cates says an important piece of the program is ensuring families and kids get to choose their own books.

“There’s so much pressure on the kids to right now to make up this huge deficit that they are struggling with, and we need to go back to focus on reading for fun,” said Cates.

Parent Shantaja Clyburn said that’s something she’s already instilling in her young daughter.

“I love reading myself, so I try and put that on her as much as I can, and she’ll pick up a book even though she can’t really read it. She knows some of the pictures, and she’ll be sitting there on her own turning the pages, and I think that’s so cute,” said Clyburn.

Promising Pages plans to launch the program in 31 Inlivian affordable housing communities over the next two years.

Inlivian is a partner in the Bookseed Launch program.

Once the program has been set up in a community, families can replenish their home libraries whenever they need to and have access to other reading resources.

SmartStart, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, Read Charlotte’s Reading CheckUp, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, and Safe Kids are all partners helping to provide those literary resources.

Channel 9 is collecting new and gently used books right now, which will be distributed to children and teens.

To find a donation location near you, click here.

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