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How Books Are Making It Better…and 5 Ways To Help This Holiday Season!

Books Make It Better

Last month, we launched Books Make it Better, a new, mom-driven movement to support early literacy efforts in communities across the country. You can read our initial post on this program here; I’m excited to share some updates, and more ideas on getting involved, throughout the holiday season!

The BMIB Movement Gains Momentum Across The Country!

Over the past month, Mom Congress delegates from across the country have been busy collecting books on behalf of various local community partners. Here in Portland, Oregon, we’ve gathered 600 books — and counting — for The Children’s Book Bank, who provides every Headstart and Early Headstart child in the county with a bag of 15 books to call their own. My neighbor delegate in WA, Renee Berry, collected 3154 books for a few organizations, including her local chapter of Reach out and Read, and  The Children’s Reading Foundation, and a local school in need. Renee notes, “I am inspired by the many charity champions in my community, state, nation and the world.  I can't wait to update this blog on the evolution of the Books Make It Better Book Drive in the months to come....I know it has just begun!”

Back East, Meghan Lynch in NJ has collected nearly 2000 books for Reach Out and Read! “With the support of several amazing NJ moms, 2 incredibly generous stores and one fantastic school, BMIB-NJ has doubled our goal!” she shared just prior to Thanksgiving. And down South, our GA delegate Lyssa Sahadevan collected nearly 700 books for The Children’s Restoration Network to distribute to women and children's shelters across Atlanta. “We were so inspired and encouraged with this success,” she reports, “that we have decided to hold a follow-up drive in January! We want to FILL THOSE SHELVES! “ And our AL delegate Jerri Ann Reason held a 2-school book drive, collecting 400 books for kids and adults for the YWCA in Birmingham, AL. “Who knew that one blogger with one voice could generate over 400 books in such a short time? The result has been overwhelming!” she reports. 

We’ve also gotten some incredible social media support from Myrdin Thompson, our 2010 delegate from KY, for our Virtual Book Drive For Reach out and Read.  As Myrdin notes, “Really, for the price of a latte you can put a book into a child's hands. How easy is that?” I couldn’t agree more, Myrdin!  We’re also beginning to hear from individuals across the country who are planning other efforts; we’ll be tallying results in the coming weeks and sharing more next month, so if you are involved in any BMIB efforts, please contact us here to share your plans and/or progress so we can include them in our update!

In the meantime…read on for 5 simple ways to help this holiday season.


With the busy holiday season officially here, it can be hard to find even a moment to spare. Here are 5 simple ways you can help, whether you have 5 minutes, or 5 hours to spare!

If You Have 5 Minutes:

1. Help Us Fill The Reading Tree Before Christmas!

We recently launched a new focus for the holidays: The Reading Tree Project. The idea for this project came from a Pasadena-CA mom, Traci Fleming, who heard about our efforts and volunteered to donate a tree-shaped bookcase from her company, Nurseryworks, as a way to encourage others to support our Virtual Book Drive for Reach out and Read. Our goal is to fill its branches — and let the love of reading take root for kids 0-5 served by Reach out and Read. — before Christmas. It’s easy to choose from 11 children’s classics, each only $5, to donate, or sponsor a child for the full 5-year program, through our Virtual Book Drive for Reach out and Read today.

2. Educate yourself and Learn More About Why Early Literacy Matters.

The ratio of children to books in low income neighborhoods is 300 to 1, and only 36% of low income kids are ready to daily. Research shows us that language skills — the foundation for reading ability and school readiness — are based primarily on language exposure. Why not learn more, so you can help educate and engage others? And don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter while you’re at it!

If You Have An Hour Or Two…

3.    Consider ways to incorporate the BMIB message into your family’s own season of giving.  As part of our family’s Hanukkah  celebration, we’ll be donating 8 books, 1 for each night. Each of my daughters will get to choose a few of their favorites from our Virtual Book Drive list, and also select some of their most loved books from our own collection to donate. And as a small business owner, I’ve invited each of my clients to select a favorite book for me to donate on their behalf as well. These are just 2 ideas of many…I’d love to hear yours!

4.    Begin planning for a book drive in January, once the busy holiday season is behind us. Take the first step and download our BMIB toolkit from the Mom Congress Resource Center, for step-by-step instructions, tips, Marketing & PR tools, local Reach out and Read contacts, and more. January 16 —the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service — would be a great day to kickoff!

If You Have Even More Time…

5.    Get Involved With Reach Out and Read. We’re honored to partner nationally with Reach out and Read, as part of our BMIB toolkit on the Mom Congress Resource Center. Children served by Reach out and Read enter kindergarten with a six-month developmental edge due to the increased access to reading, vocabulary, and language skills; I recently interviewed their CEO on my blog; read and learn more here.

We’ve included local contacts for each state in the BMIB toolkit, or feel free to Contact us here anytime to get connected.

Most importantly…Help Us Continue Connecting and Driving The Dialogue!  Beyond the obvious benefit of the books we collect, the much bigger idea behind BMIB is to make it easy for families to create dialogue and engage kids in activities that promote more compassion, empathy, and awareness of others around them.  We’d love to hear from anyone who is currently working to support early literacy — or considering doing so — anytime!

Jen is Oregon's 2011 Mom Congress delegate, and lives in Portland, OR. As a passionate preschool parent to identical (yet nothing alike) twin daughters, she is an active volunteer with several local community organizations who support early literacy, student health & hunger relief, and arts education efforts. Through her small business marketing firm, Big Small Brands, Jen also provides pro-bono services for education nonprofits; Connect with her at, on Twitter @1OregonMom and @BooksBetter, and in "Reflections of An Oregon Mom".