BookEnds, a non-profit organization based in Southern California, is about the promise and the power of our children. The promise of the potential that an educated population brings to our future and the power of our children to become community leaders having experienced their ability to make a difference.
Established in 1998 by an eight year-old boy, BookEnds has donated more than two million books to engage 500,000 students in the joy and imagination of reading.
Eight year old Brandon, home from school with a cold, tagged along with his mom, Robin Keefe, to a Board of Directors meeting at Hollygrove Children's Home, where he half-listened to the adults' discussion of how to build a library for the more than 60 kids who lived there. The adults listed a litany of obstacles to creating a library. Brandon, without saying anything to his mom, was already thinking of his own solution.
The next day, Brandon told his third grade classmates that "My mom's orphanage needs books! Everybody has books on their shelves that they've outgrown. Why not give the great ones we've already read to kids who need them?"
On the last day of school before winter vacation, Brandon waited eagerly for his mom to pick him up so he could surprise her with the books. As Robin drove up the school driveway, a grinning Brandon stood on the sidewalk surrounded by hundreds of books and exclaimed, "Merry Christmas, Mom!"
There were more books than Hollygrove needed so Robin began to knock on doors to see who could best use these books. This is when her education began. She had assumed that it was unusual for a child not to grow up surrounded by the joy and enchantment of reading. She found that in so many neighborhoods books were considered a luxury, and children lived without them.
Now in 2011, compounding the economic divide, are the dire school funding cuts and tough economy. Schools and youth organizations do not have budgets to purchase recreational reading books. Imagine not growing up with such classics as The Cat and the Hat, To Kill a Mockingbird or Charlotte’s Web! From the looks of the budget situation in California, things are going to get worse before they get better.
Children need books to learn to read. BookEnds continues to grow each year, providing more students at more schools with more books.
Children collect books to learn to lead. BookEnds continues to engage more student volunteers each year as we work with both alumni and freshman youth groups.
Beginning with a young boy's courage to make a difference, driven by passion and leadership, and fueled by students eager to help one another, the BookEnds concept has grown from the dream of an eight year-old boy into a vital solution to one of Southern California's most pressing concerns: lack of books for our children to learn to read.