From now until March 21, George Washington University students, faculty and staff are invited to share the gift of reading with children and families who lack access to books.
New and gently used books can be dropped off at the Academic Center, Ames Hall, the Marvin Center, the Mount Vernon Campus Clock Tower and Rice Hall as well as inside Enterprise Hall and Innovation Hall on GW’s Virginia Science and Technology Campus. The books will be distributed to First Book, the Washington Literacy Center and the national AmeriCorps program Jumpstart.
GW community members can also make monetary donations online, which will provide brand new books to local preschoolers in the Jumpstart program. For every $10 given, four brand new books will be donated.
The GW Children’s Book Drive—sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Office of Government Relations and the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service—was sparked by Vice President for Research Leo Chalupa. He said the idea came to him while he was watching his oldest granddaughter read to her younger siblings.
“Although libraries are free, they are not always accessible. I think it is important for young children to own their own books,” Dr. Chalupa said. “Many of us have books around the house that we or our children have outgrown. Rather than throw them away, why not pass them on to someone in need?”
Research has shown that simply having books at home can increase a child’s literacy skills, said Amy Cohen, executive director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service. The nonprofit organizations that are accepting books from the GW drive work daily to put books in the hands of low-income children, their teachers and their parents.
To date, First Book has distributed more than 100 million books to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada. The Washington Literacy Center provides direct instruction to adult students who struggle to read.
Jumpstart is a national AmeriCorps program that places college students in teams to serve preschools in low-income neighborhoods for an academic year. Corps members work to prepare preschool children for kindergarten and beyond.
Currently, 50 GW students serve in three early childhood Jumpstart programs across the District. GW corps members will bring books from the GW Book Drive directly to their Jumpstart classrooms.
“Giving these children new books emphasizes the value of literacy and that being able to read on grade level is very important, “ said Lauryn King, a junior in the Elliott School of International Affairs and an events program assistant in the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service.
Ms. Cohen said she feels this is a particularly important project for GW community members to participate in.
“We are an educational institution, and many of the members of our community have had a life filled with books,” she said. “It is one of the resources and the gifts we can share with other people—the love of reading and the love of stories.”