PRH Supports Book Rich Environments with Book Donations to Public Housing Communities
PRH has supported the Book Rich Environments program since its inception in 2017, and now in its sixth year, BRE has proudly distributed over 1.6 million books to children and families around the country. Their local partners have reached nearly 700,000 young people at over 1,900 book giveaway events, and they have done so through every stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, adapting and problem-solving, all while remaining staunchly committed to bringing new, high-quality, diverse books to young people everywhere.
In 2022, Book Rich Environments (BRE) distributed over 192,000 free books to 50 public housing communities in 30 states. As public health restrictions eased, for the first time in years, partners were able to host regular, large scale book giveaway events, from summertime “books and barbeques” and picnics in the park, to back to school bashes, backpack giveaways, baby showers, and more.
Building on successes from previous years’ socially-distanced book giveaway models, partners built libraries in community centers and student learning labs, and filled bookshelves in lobbies, courtyards, and even office waiting rooms, so that children and families could access these books at every turn, truly creating a book rich environment.
As library and school shelves are increasingly subject to censorship and suppression, NBF has turned to Book Rich Environments to be able to provide children with the invaluable experience of a diverse array of stories which both reflect their own lives, and teach them compassion for others whom they may otherwise never meet. We found it a point of pride that we were able to send so many books to young people with stories in which they can imagine themselves and their communities, and with heroes they can see themselves become.
BRE was also thrilled to continue to foster connections among public housing communities, local libraries, and local literacy organizations, while also establishing new connections between young readers and their literary heroes.
In three Book Rich communities, public housing staff worked with local libraries, schools, and community-based organizations to offer National Book Foundation virtual author visits to young people in their communities. Angeline Boulley spoke to high schoolers at Leech Lake Tribal College in Minnesota; Ernesto Cisneros to elementary schoolers in Springfield, Massachusetts; and Kwame Alexander to middle and high school students in our hometown of New York City. Each event included a book giveaway component, continuing the Book Rich Environments mission to get more books into the hands and homes of young people everywhere.
This year eight new partnering sites in high-need areas across the countries were welcomed to Book Rich Environments —one of their largest expansions of the program in a single year to date. As part of a larger expansion plan, they will add a total of twenty new sites within three years, while continuing to deliver new books to their current sites who have made this partnership a central part of their programming.