The non-profit Friends of Reston Regional Library is providing about 1,800 free books to local students. The Book Bites project is giving new books to children at four Reston public schools during meal and school supply pick-up, which typically runs from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m on weekdays.
The schools that will receive donations are Dogwood Elementary, Hunters Woods Elementary, Forest Edge Elementary, and South Lakes High School. The first day of distribution took place at Dogwood late last week and is expected to continue until March.
Where are our @DogwoodFairfax 4-6 readers? We’ve got books waiting for you! We’re here til 1230! 🙂📚@dogwoodlibfcps @DogwoodMinds #WeNeedDiverseBooks #bookbites @LindaSuePark @KSekouM pic.twitter.com/JatcHV2AMw
— RestonLibraryFriends (@LoveBooksReston) January 29, 2021
Eileen Evon, Community Outreach Chair for FRRL, says the idea came to the organization when they realized how many families were in need of partaking in the meal pick-ups.
“Knowing more kids than ever were going to schools to pick up meals got us thinking about what else they might need to feed their brains and hearts and imaginations during this crazy time,” Evon wrote in an email to Reston Now. “We believed we, as Friends of the Library, could and should help.”
With access to libraries still limited, Evon says, this made the need even greater.
Books were sorted, inventoried, and arranged by reading level by more than 25 volunteers. Families are able to take bundles for multiple students within the same household. Books will also be handed out at schools in the coming weeks, when more students are expected to return in-person.
The books chosen for the project are from recommended school reading lists and were based on input from school librarians, reading specialists, and other school staff.
The organization received assistance from the local business Scrawl Books at Reston Town Center, which provided discounts on books. Jersey Mike’s of Reston also donated 1,000 new paper bags for the book bundles.
FRRL says the total cost of the books being distributed is nearly $15,000. Funds for the project came from sales of donated books as well as cash donations.
In normal times, FRRL raises money (often with book sales) to assist Reston libraries in filling funding gaps. Their mission is to make the local library system the “can be the best it can be” by providing technology, collection materials, programming, and books for free or discounted costs to the community, according to its website.
Evon says that while giving away free books looks easy, it requires a lot of work.
“It seems like a simple idea: ‘let’s give away a bunch of free, brand-new books to kids who rarely get them.’ But it actually has required months of planning and creative thinking,” she says. “The schools have so much going on right now, and they have had to adapt constantly. We’ve been delighted to partner with them so our volunteers can come to their schools to distribute these books to their families.”
Photo courtesy of Friends of Reston Regional Library