OUR HISTORY: IT BEGAN WITH A LIBRARY
As a former middle school English teacher, Judy saw firsthand how challenging it was for hardworking parents to find time to visit the library, select appropriate books, and read aloud to their children. This problem was compounded for parents new to the English language. Indeed, many parents – whether immigrants or native-born – did not always understand how important it was to become a child’s “first teacher” by reading aloud to the children long before they first entered school.
Judy eventually left teaching and joined the family business at RSP, a manufacturing firm in Fremont, California where a majority of employees were immigrants learning English. While these men and women were seeking a better life for themselves and their children, they had little time to hone their own and their children’s reading and English comprehension skills.
THIS WAS THE LIGHT-BULB MOMENT.
During her teaching career, Judy had taken courses given by children’s literature specialist Kay Goines. Judy hired Goines to recommend quality, culturally responsive trade books that would best serve the needs of RSP employees. She also created audiotapes of Goines reading the books aloud. Soon a library of these specially selected books and accompanying audiotapes were made available to employees in the RSP workspace. Employees were immediately enthusiastic about the program.
SO WAS BORN THE BRING ME A BOOK LIBRARY.
When the RSP firm was sold in 1997, Judy made Bring Me A Book a personal, continuing priority. She continues to serve on the Board of Directors and provides key funding for core operating expenses. After selling the company, Judy Koch officially founded Bring Me A Book as a non-profit and opened its doors to promote community literacy.
Bring Me a Book has national and international outreach through its affiliates in other parts of the country and world. And Bring Me A Book works with our Literacy Champions, public and school libraries, and Bookelicious to make sure that all children, birth and beyond, in under-resourced communities in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the states have access to the joy and transformational power of books they choose themselves to read and, therefore, will love best.
WHO WE ARE
Bring Me A Book is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization founded in 1997 by former middle school English teacher turned CEO, Judy Koch. We are community literacy activists, working hand-in-hand with partners who share our passion for bringing the joy and transformational power of books to children. We harness the power of book access, reader agency, identity, and book choice— together with the community resources of the public library, the cornerstone of democracy —to create a Virtuous Cycle of Book Abundance and grow a nation of readers.
Our mission is founded on the belief that reading benefits not only the individual reader, but also humanity as a whole. The benefits of reading—superior analytical thinking, an expanded vocabulary, social-emotional strength and resilience, leading to a greater ability to overcome adversity—create a literacy ecosystem that ripples across humanity.
Avid readers are more likely to become civically engaged citizens who care about each other, our nation, and the world, and who are better prepared to improve conditions for us all. And now, more than ever, we need creative thinkers. There is no more powerful way to engage the imagination—and unleash the power of innovation— than through books. To create the equitable solutions for the future, we need to grow a nation of readers today.
WHAT WE DO
With support from a wide range of partners, Bring Me A Book helps schools and organizations that serve children overcome book scarcity and bring book abundance to all children Our book access partners include school and public libraries, First Book, and socially responsible, revenue-sharing, start-up Bookelicious, founded by Lea Anne Borders. The revenue we earn through Bookelicious helps fund books for the children we serve, creating a Virtuous Circle of Support. As a result, we’re able to bring books to children in under-resourced preschools and daycare centers, libraries, medical clinics, homeless shelters, Boys and Girls Clubs, and, indeed, any place where children are served.
HOW WE DO IT
We follow the “best practices” of community literacy—1) we respond to the needs of the community; 2) we invite community participation, and 3) we work to ensure that our efforts are sustainable, helping children thrive for years to come. We seek civically-minded community partners and then help provide the resources they need to be successful.
Our Literacy Champions
- The Bring Me A Book National Collaborative comprises Literacy Champions, who represent a national network of literacy experts— reading researchers, scholars, and expert practitioners— educators, public and school librarians, and social workers. Together they form a “literacy brain trust.”
- Our Literacy Champions offer the highest quality professional development—across a wide range of topics—from family engagement to multilingual theory and practice to the art of the read aloud—helping to sustain the work we do.
- Our Literacy Champions are both catalysts for community literacy access in their own communities as well as professional supporters of existing efforts in other communities. In other words, our Literacy Champions lend their professional support to help extend, refine, and sustain community literacy projects across the states.
We offer two sets of Literacy Advocacy Toolkits:
1) Bring Me A Book Literacy Advocacy Toolkits
Our Bring Me A Book Toolkits detail our award-winning “best practices” for our pivotal programs: School and Public Library Partnerships, Classroom Libraries, Family Engagement, and Home Libraries, Book Cubbies, Book Buddies, and Service Clubs: Speaker Appreciation.
2) Literacy Champion Literacy Advocacy Toolkits
Written by our esteemed Literacy Champions, these toolkits represent the best of their literacy research and expert practice from a lifetime dedicated to growing confident and capable readers, writers, and learners. We harness the power of community engagement and youthful ingenuity and optimism of those organizations and campaigns already involved in promoting literacy, including Rotary, Rotary Interact, and E3 Youth Philanthropy.
A database of pivotal reading research for policy makers and funders—as well as family-friendly articles for laypeople that explain the critical importance of books and reading.
Tools and Resources
- Ready-to-use power point presentations and social media that communities can access to help make the case for book access
- Handouts featuring infographics that capture pivotal statistics
- Case studies of success—feature stories of communities that overcame their book scarcity and are reaping the benefits of their book abundance
We harness the power of community engagement and youthful ingenuity and optimism of those organizations and campaigns already involved in promoting literacy, including Rotary, Rotary Interact, and E3 Youth Philanthropy.
Families are their child’s first and best teachers. Whether they purchase books on their own or rely on book donations and libraries, all families are best served by expert information about the nature of literacy and how it develops most effectively in growing readers. Families can access information via web content, e-newsletters, podcasts, and most importantly, the intentional use of all social media channels. Content may include:
- selecting books across grades, ages, and ability levels
- harnessing the power of series books
- getting to know authors
- creating a culture of reading in your home
- finding time in your busy life to talk about books
- drawing on the power of graphic novels and audiobooks as part of a reading diet
- inviting children to read a variety of texts for a variety of purposes
OUR CORE VALUES
EQUITY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
At the core of every reader is a sense of self-identity that encompasses the reader’s sociocultural background, language, values, perspectives, and developing knowledge of the world. Literacy is a civil right and it begins with defining yourself as a reader and choosing the books that will help you shape and expand your identity. Having the agency to choose your own books and to craft a reading life that aligns with your identity is equity in action. All children deserve and have the right to enjoy books that reflect their language, culture, traditions, and the worlds in which they live.
THE WHOLE CHILD
We place children first. We focus on supporting their emerging language, literacy, numeracy, and their sense of self in the world. Additionally, we know that a robust reading life fosters imagination, expansive problem solving, and social emotional strength and resilience—all key aspects of the multi-faceted development of the whole child.
We can help our children develop greater empathy for others—including those who may not look like them or have the same beliefs as they do—by sharing trade books,powerful instructional tools for introducing and celebrating diverse experiences, perspectives, and ways of knowing and being. In our increasingly diverse nation and interconnected global world, our children will thrive to the extent that they are globally aware.
We are community literacy advocates. Community literacy works best when it responds to community needs, invites community participation, and is sustainable. Literacy benefits the individual, the family, the community, and society at large.
THE JOY OF LEARNING
We are passionate about education, literacy, and the joy of learning for the children and communities we serve. All learners—children and adults alike—are most engaged when they have the agency to make their own choices about what and how they will learn.
We are committed to the highest ethical and professional standards in our work and relationships. Our community partners trust our word and value our ability to deliver programs in a conscientious and respectful way.
BRING ME A BOOK
We strive to deliver high-quality programs grounded in research, knowledge, data, teamwork and a culture of continuous improvement. The success of BMAB is dependent on the quality of the team members employed by the organization and our valuing their contributions.
BRING ME A BOOK
We are passionate about education and literacy readiness for the children, communities, and stakeholders we serve and strive to create an enjoyable experience and environment for learning.
BRING ME A BOOK
We are committed to high ethical and professional standards in our work and relationships. Our stakeholders trust our word and ability to deliver programs in a conscientious and respectful way.
Meet Our Leadership Team
LOIS BRIDGES, Ph.D.
“For all children, and for all who love and inspire them—a world of possible awaits in the pages of a book.”
Prior to joining Bring Me A Book, Lois Bridges was the Vice-President and Publisher of professional books and resources at Scholastic, the Literacy Publisher at Heinemann Publishers, and the Director of Professional Publishing for The Galef Institute. She has served on the boards of Bring Me A Book, LitWorld, and on the Literacy Awards Board for the Library of Congress. Lois taught first grade on the Tohono O’odham Reservation in the Sonoran Desert and pursued her doctorate in Education with a focus in Language & Literacy and Applied Linguistics. While raising her three children, she taught graduate language and literacy courses at the University of California and California State University campuses in the San Francisco Bay area. She is the author or co-author of eight books, including Open a World of Possible, a tribute to the joy and power of literacy.