If you've ever wondered what half a million books look like, just imagine a warehouse entirely full of them. Literacy Mid-South brought those many stacks of brand new books—500,000, to be exact—to Memphis to be distributed to children in need.
The best part? The books were absolutely free.
Kevin Dean and a First Book representative greet people at the doors of the warehouse (generously donated by Colliers International Memphis).
To bring this first-of-its-kind major book distribution to the Bluff City,
Literacy Mid-South was proud to partner with the national non-profit First Book
, a Washington, D.C.-based group who have annually provided 125 million books across America.
“In Shelby County alone, less than 40 percent of students are reading proficiently by third grade, and the majority of school-aged children do not have access to books at home or outside of school,” said Kevin Dean, Executive Director of Literacy Mid-South.
The book distribution was enacted as a part of Read Across America Month, in which they normally give 20,000 books away. “We are upping the ante by raising that number to half a million this year,” Dean said with excitement.
During the first week of March, Dean along with First Book representatives and an army of volunteers distributed the books to schools, churches, and nonprofit partners.
Yellin collects 1,180 books to enhance her summer program, Explore Memphis, at the public library.
Michelle Yellin, a youth services librarian for Memphis Public Libraries, embodies what these books make possible. “We are taking 1,180 books to give as prizes for the children who participate in our summer reading program, Explore Memphis.” For Yellin and other literacy advocates, the free books are opening doors.
"This distribution will put brand-new books directly in [the children’s] hands, giving them a greater opportunity to read and learn, and ultimately increasing the number of third graders reading on grade level in our community," said Dean.