It's not a rhetorical question. I'm really trying to figure it out. How many books are enough?
This summer, I thought 2,000 books would suffice. Yet here we are at 7,000+ books and I'm more frustrated than if we had NO books.
For better or worse, something happened to me over the last couple of months: I started to think big. My, what a double-edged sword it's been.
Some numbers: There are about 6,000 kids in Athens' public elementary schools. I have no way of knowing which kids are low-income and which are not. And I'm not sure it matters. The poverty rate is incredibly high here, but income is not the sole factor at play in whether or not a child has books at home. So Books for Keeps is targeting 6,000 kids. We don't have any other way to ensure we reach every child.
7,000 books for 6,000 kids... is that enough?
Here's the thing: I've mentioned Dr. Allington's study many, many times. The results were amazing... simply giving books to kids to take home for summer made such a difference. BUT: those kids were given 12 books each. So if my math is correct, we need 72,000 books to make a difference in every child's future.
So I think the answer to my question is 72,000. Yes, 72,000 books will be enough.
What will it take to collect & distribute 72,000 books? The truth is I'm stretched so thin I'm almost transparent. I don't know how I can even start to tackle this new goal. It's too much. But if that's all it takes to make a difference in these specific 6,000 kids' lives, shouldn't I at least try? Shouldn't WE at least try?
When you stop laughing, I hope you will join me in praying for a miracle, and then donate 5 minutes of your time to think "What can I do to help?" Think big. I'm not kidding, and I haven't lost my mind. I'm just telling you the truth, like I have since this whole thing started... this is keeping me awake at night.
Food for thought: several Books for Keeps supporters collected nearly 500 books each simply by emailing their coworkers & neighbors. None of them had any idea they'd get such a response. Hmmmm. Employers, neighbors, churches, organizations, friends, family... who has the books, and how can you get them?
AND: It's not that expensive to ship books, especially if they're paperback children's books. So don't let geography stop you; we'll work out a way to get the books if you can collect them.
AND: let's not forget the power of money. Our partner Family Connection will make it tax deductible, and Books for Keeps will be able to buy books.
We need 72,000 books between now and April 30th. We need your ideas, and your help to put those ideas into action.... fast. We need money. We need people to spread the word at an unprecedented level.
72,000 books will give us a chance to end summer slide NOW, not later. I'm throwing that out in the universe and hoping, hoping, hoping.
PS: I know you're ready to get started right away, so here's a link with info on how to send us books and/or funds.