Foundation-Funded One Book at a Time Program Delivers Books to Hundreds of Local Kids
Hundreds of children and teens throughout Madison received free books in 2016 through Madison Public Library’s One Book at a Time program, funded by a Madison Public Library Foundation grant.
With research indicating access to books has a dramatic impact on kids’ ability to do well in school and continue to learn throughout the summer, the foundation granted $10,000 to purchase books to give away for free at community events. Librarians and Assistant Librarians selected 4,500 books in English and Spanish to purchase, which targeted reading levels for babies through teens.
Many children who received books are minorities or from low-income families, and had never owned a book of their own before. Madison Metropolitan School District teacher Britt Falbo, who works at the Dane County Juvenile Shelter, said her students jumped at the opportunity to choose free books from a huge selection for themselves.
“Having the ability to provide each student with a new, high-interest book upon release from our facility has been such an incredible gift to Shelter School students,” Falbo said. “With over 50 titles to choose from, the students enjoy picking the right fit for them. I typically get the response, ‘Really? I can take one of these with me?’ ”
Madison Public Library Youth Services Manager Tammy Pineda said program coordinators and partners were deliberate in choosing books for certain events and communities, making sure each title depicted diverse characters and were of strong interest to those receiving them.
“We feel this has been a very important asset to our literacy work in Madison,” Pineda said. “We got a lot of positive feedback from community partners about the diversity represented in our books, and a lot of wonderful comments from children who were thrilled to get to pick any book and take it home with them.”
As part of the Parents as First Teachers home visit program — another Madison Public Library-partnered program — a nurse said she brought a book to one family’s newborn and 3-year-old, whom she noticed didn’t have many books. That same nurse also brought a carefully selected farm-themed book to a family whose father was dyslexic and had a background in farming. She made sure the book was accessible to his reading level so he could engage in reading to his child.
The program’s large selection of books made community outreach like this possible. Throughout the year, books were given away at eight events: 100 Black Men’s Backpacks for Success, Parents As First Teachers home visits, West Fest, Trucks & Treasures, Caregiver Happy Hour at Pinney Library, El Jardin Infantil grand opening, Halloween with the Latino Health Council and MMSD Parent Academy. Books also were given out at seven locations throughout the Madison area: Claudi’s Kids Daycare, Wee Start Daycare, Animal Crackers Day Care, the Juvenile Detention Center, SAPAR program for teen parents, Leopold Community School and ARC Maternal Center.
Giveaways are still scheduled for some events this year, such as Head Start Family Nights, and Glendale and Lincoln elementary schools’ 4K Family Nights.