To Plan a Book Drive or not to Plan a Book Drive – That is the question!
Can you relate to this situation?
Chris gets back to his position in the school library at the end of summer break. He can barely get in the door, as there are so many boxes in the way. Why? Because some nice community members decided to donate children’s books to the library. Chris opens the boxes with a sigh. These books are not aligned with any curriculum, many have writing and ripped pages, and there is no time to read through the books to tell if they could be suitable… Sadly, these books are going to be set aside until someone has time to go through them….
Chris wonders if there is a way to guide generous donors to appropriate books? Children’s books that focus on 21st century topics such as diversity, inclusion, STEM topics, social emotional issues and more! Age-appropriate, brand new, vetted books that will be an asset to the school or classroom library would get so much use!
Sadly, many can relate to this scenario. Children’s book drives without direction can be more a cause for nightmares than celebration. However, a properly planned and executed book drive, run virtually or in real life, can make a big difference in the quality of childrens’ books available in schools or at home. Targeted choices that will most benefit our children are ideal for well managed book drives. Books like these that also appeal to the children help to promote literacy, which is a goal for our children we can all get behind.
First, we will look at the pros and cons of having a book drive online or in person. Hopefully this will put you on the right track if your organization is considering a book drive in the near future. Then, we will look at the trending topics in book drive offerings to help guide your selection. Hopefully at the end of this article you will have a good understanding of how to create a children’s book drive that best suites the goals of your program.
Traditional Offline Book Drives
In the traditional book drive, the organizer creates a list of desired books and distributes them to prospective donors. These lists can be sent via email or social media – or even printed and posted in heavily trafficked locations. The donors are asked to purchase and place or deliver the books to a donation bin or barrel nearby. Below are some considerations for traditional book drives.
- These drives leave it to chance that the donor can find the book on the list. Donors often decide to purchase books that are not on the list – either because they favor books that they favored as a child, or because they are not able to find the books on the list.
- It is important call area booksellers and check Amazon to ensure your desired books are available in sufficient quantities.
- If customers order online for themselves or from a ‘wishlist,’ then you have orders arriving at your office daily, so the organizer will need to open up the individual boxes (and discard the packagin), sorting the books, and track the receipts.
- Donors like to peruse bookstores and get the satisfaction of physically delivering a book to a book donation dropoff location.
- Book donation bins for book donation dropoff need to be secured, placed in safe locations, and visited regularly to collect the books. The organizers will need to carefully track and inventory the receipts. And when the drive is over, the donation bins or barrels will need to be stored or disposed of.
Virtual Book Drives
In the virtual book drive, the organizer selects a list of desired books and and posted them on a drive or wishlist online. The donors are sent a link and purchase directly from the list. The books are then delivered directly to the organization, eliminating the need for collecting and inventorying books from collection bins. Below are some considerations for virtual book drives.
- The virtual book drive will clearly display the list of the books, the desired quantities of each, and the price – this makes it very easy for the donor to see what’s needed.
- Asking donors to choose from a targeted list of books reduces the possibility of receiving books that are not needed. Donors are often savvy and may purchase elsewhere, but this requires a lot more effort. Donors appreciate the convenience of purchasing online and have become accustomed to this model over time.
- An online drive eliminates the need for book donation bins or dropoff locations, streamlining collections and reducing the effort required to run a drive.
- The books are delivered to you directly. Virtual drive providers like Roonga will consolidate the purchases and deliver the entire order at the end of the drive. Online wishlists from Target, Amazon, and other retailers will send books as each purchase is made, making it more work to receive, tracki, and inventory receipts.
Books for 21st Century Learners
What kinds of books are being requested in recent book drives? For many children in high poverty schools, there is a lack of age-appropriate books for 21st century learning. These topics include Diversity and Inclusion, STEM, and Social-Emotional Learning. These book themes are trending in book drives today, and are all appreciated by schools. We will look at each of these themes, as well as a specific example of each kind.
Including books about diversity and inclusion in a respectful way that kids can understand helps them to develop empathy and understanding, allowing students to get to know those around them. By reading culturally relevant themes, children can connect with the common bonds that exist in all cultures. It encourages students to have dreams and aspirations and realize through these types of books that they have more in common with the people around them. Diversity and inclusivity themes can limit the impact of negative stereotypes.
Sample Book: We Are Alike, We Are Different by Janice Behrens
Book drives that include STEM books provide children with access to learning by doing across the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Students learn to problem-solve, which supports the development of their future ready skills. Students with STEM books experience excitement, interest, and motivation to learn about the natural and physical world. They think of themselves as lifelong learners and contributors. Often these books are interactive and include experiments or problems to solve to have real-life experiences while reading the book.
Sample Book: LEGO Build this City, by Scholastic
Book Drives that include books on the topic of Social-Emotional Learning use stories to teach children how to care for themselves and others. This includes the ability to understand themselves, to develop a positive self-image, to take responsibility for their actions, and to develop relationships with those around them. Reading books like this allows the reader to step into someone else’s shoes, which is how empathy is formed. Social-emotional learning books generate conversations and provide the context to build emotional literacy skills.
Sample Book: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Crossover books have more than one of the above topics are included in one book. They are a great bang for the donor’s buck! For example, a diverse book about STEM careers allows for education about STEM disciplines, career paths and self-reflection. A science book where students are introduced to notable minority biologists and chemists is another fine example. There are many examples of multi-thematic books such as these.
Sample Book: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Many schools and other groups would benefit from book drives with targeted themes of Diversity and Inclusion, STEM and Social-Emotional Learning. The recipient groups are always happy to let you know what kind of books would be most beneficial. Don’t forget to includes different age and grade level ranges when selecting books.
When planning your children’s book drive, you will need to decide if you want a virtual drive or a traditional offline drive. If you choose a virtual drive, do some research to find out which online platform best suits the needs of your organization. Roonga is one example of a platform that will host your book drive for no cost. Here are a few examples of book drives that Roonga has recently hosted:
- Valley of the Sun United Way Willie T. Jeffries Legacy Book Drive (Diversity Theme): https://www.roonga.com/williebookdrive
- Prepared to Thrive Book Drive (Diversity and STEM Themes): https://www.roonga.com/preparedtothrive
- Rock Family of Companies Virtual Book Drive (Diversity and Social-Emotional Themes): https://www.roonga.com/rocketbookdrivecle
Good luck planning your book drive – and feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to discuss yours!