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Collier kids can get book collection to take home

For the first time ever, the education organization and publisher Room to Read will provide each kindergartener and 1st grader in Collier County with a collection of 10 diverse books this month. The children can take the books home and keep them.

Karen Harmon is the Southeastern US project manager for Room to Read.

“Room to Read is committed to children’s literacy," she said. "And what we’re looking for, and what we’re doing here in Collier County, is trying to create home libraries for children. We know that Collier County is an area that has what we refer to as ‘book deserts,’ which means that there are lots of homes here where they have 10 to no books in the home. And of course that’s a concern, because if children don’t have books in their home, than they are probably not reading, and that can hinder their academic performance.”

Room to Read has partnered with local nonprofits such as Books for Collier Kids and Grace Place for Children and Families to distribute their 10-book “Peace and Equality Collection” to every kindergartener and 1st grader in Collier County.

Lara Fisher is CEO of Grace Place:

“So for Grace Place, you know, one of the areas that a lot of our families struggle with is that they don't have a home library," she said. "There is no dedicated area or no dedicated reading time within their households. A lot of times, that's because money is tight and books can be expensive. And when they are able to find books, those books typically don't look like the families. And for us, it's really important that we're able to partner or provide books ourselves that represent those families.”

Room to Read doesn’t just distribute books, it is actually publishing them. Karen Harmon says they look for what segments of the population are not being represented and try to recruit manuscripts that speak to those children. The goal, Harmon says, is to represent all voices in children's books.

The program is not affiliated with the Collier County Schools, and parents can opt out of the distribution.

Room to Read plans a collection of books in Haitian Creole to be distributed in 2023.

See the list of books, here.

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