On Saturday, April 25th, children served by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County’s mentoring programs, excitedly perused and selected books from hundreds of donated titles at the annual The Big Book Giveaway, a free book fair for children and families.
The Big Book Giveaway began five years ago to encourage the importance of early childhood literacy among the Mentoring Youth and Mentoring Moms families. This program provides mentors to children and families who are at-risk for social, emotional or behavioral challenges. 95% of the families served in this program make less that 24K a year, living at the poverty line. Buying books at a bookstore or at their school book fair is a luxury that is often not in the family budget, so our families rely on this special book fair to give their children books of their very own to keep and enjoy. A 6th grade boy who attended the fair excitedly shared with us, “There are a lot of good books here. I go to the library a lot but THESE are my own.”
Many of these families are struggling to provide the basics of shelter and food, and are faced with overwhelming personal challenges. By providing the children with age-appropriate, new books of their very own, the Big Book Giveaway helps the children to develop a love of reading, and encourages parents and caregivers to spend time reading with and to their children. In a recent survey conducted by the Volunteer Center, a 100% of Bergen Mentor’s family’s felt the Big Book Giveaway increased the family’s awareness on the importance of reading in their household.
Over 8,600 new children’s books were collected for the Big Book Giveaway and other local literacy efforts through the Business Volunteer Council’s Books in a Bag program. Books in a Bag is conducted annually by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County’s Business Volunteer Council (BVC), a program which engages companies in employee volunteering and workplace giving.
Books were generously donated by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, United Water, KPMG, Konica Minolta, Janome America, Scholastic, BD and Books and Greetings bookstore. Books in a Bag was sponsored by Business Volunteer Council member companies Konica Minolta, United Water, BD and Rockland Electric.