SCBWI’s Third Annual Literacy Initiative Gives Books to Readers in Need

A young reader selects a book at the SCBWI Books for Readers Celebration benefiting REACH in Virginia.(All photos courtesy SCBWI)


The members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators joined forces once again as part of the organization’s annual SCBWI Books For Readers literacy initiative to collect, curate, and donate new books created by its members to one of its two 2019 recipients: REACH in Norfolk, Virginia.

SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver, Author Meg Medina and Jennifer Goff, REACH’s executive director.

Their carefully curated library of books was officially donated at the SCBWI Books For Readers/REACH Literacy Celebration on Nov. 13 at the John Tyler Elementary School in Portsmouth, Virginia.

The evening’s events included a literacy line-up of local SCBWI authors and illustrators, an appearance by the 2019 Newbery Award-winning author and SCBWI Board Member, Meg Medina, as well as five celebration stations featuring: interactive story times, art demonstrations, story-themed crafts, photo memory sharing, and refreshments. The high point was the children in attendance selecting a book especially for them.

The SCBWI Books for Readers literacy initiative grew from the organization’s desire to create an opportunity for its members to make a greater impact in the lives of readers, to increase book access to local communities domestically and internationally, to expand its literacy advocacy, and to support the work of the many grassroots organizations working to improve literacy.

“We know that there are many book deserts in which underserved communities have as few as one book per 300 children. Our hope is to change these numbers and make high quality books available to all children,” said Lin Oliver, Executive Director of SCBWI. “Our talented members create books of hope, and they’re committed to bringing this hope to readers–especially to those in great need. Our SCBWI Books For Readers literacy initiative continues to advance our organization’s mission as children’s book creators and literacy advocates to build hopes and dreams.”

As a result of the initiative, a donation of 1,000 of SCBWI members’ books were given to REACH, a non-profit organization, that works to reverse illiteracy and to improve education for at-risk children in Virginia’s coastal communities.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with SCBWI as one of the organizations/recipients chosen from over 300 nominations—and humbled by the recognition for what we are working so hard to do–to end illiteracy!” said Jennifer Goff, Ph.D, and REACH’s executive director.

What began as singular read-aloud program with a craft, and a book giveaway for the Help and Emergency Response Shelter, has grown to an organization with a full-time staff of two and a roster of 600 dedicated volunteers who offer life-changing literacy program offerings to eleven partner homeless and domestic violence shelters and nine community organizations.

“The books that will be donated to us will be unlike any others that our children have received before,” Dr. Goff enthusiastically adds,” because they’re donated by the very people who created them. They’ll allow our children to see worlds outside their communities, to offer them experiences they’ve never had, and to see what can be, and what they can achieve. Like that famous quotation, ‘A reader lives a thousand lives–a non-reader only one!’ These books will give our kids a thousand lives–and then some!”