Los Angeles County public schools desperately need quality children’s books to improve literacy for children. Faced with projected budget shortfalls of more than $1 billion over the next three years, resources for purchasing new library books are scarce. Equally troubling is the announcement that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has proposed covering this shortfall, in part, by eliminating virtually all librarians and library aides. These cuts will be devastating to quality education.
As the level of staffing of centralized school libraries drastically declines, the classroom library model becomes increasingly essential. BookEnds meets the need by building classroom libraries, providing students with collections that are grade and literacy appropriate and more student desirable. These libraries create and enable an effective classroom teaching model, and teachers can create homework assignments and book lending programs to encourage students to take books home with them. Research has shown that book flooding (exposing students to large amounts of literature), is a quicker and more efficient way for English Language Learners to master literacy skills (Elley, 1991). This is especially meaningful to LAUSD schools who educate the nation's largest population of ESL students.
Recycling has become part of our society’s regular agenda and BookEnds Quality of Books policy has established solid guidelines for book collection. Now more than ever, the BookEnds model is an effective and efficient way to place high-quality children’s books on barren school shelves at no cost to the school district.
To date, our thousands of BookEnds student volunteers have donated more than 2 million books worth more than $16 million. The books-per student ratio at LAUSD schools is well below the national average, with the available books being increasingly outdated. BookEnds BookDrives have helped improve those numbers, especially in the neediest schools, but millions more books are needed to bring the LAUSD schools up to the national average. Improving literacy for children depends on access to books.
BookEnds mission has always encouraged children to act as responsible individuals. We seek to have children helping other children by empowering them to lead gently used book drives to supply libraries and children in need. throughout the process, children are provided the opportunity to engage in valuable life lessons, such as problem solving and decision-making. The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that two-thirds of adult volunteers started volunteering as children. Further, scholars published in the peer-review Journal of Community Development noted that “…when youth participate in the community, they gain important protective factors and achieve mastery in social competence, problem solving, autonomy and sense of purpose. Through the BookEnds process, young people can become empowered to be problem solvers, decision makers, and committed leaders who will lead community development efforts in the future.” (Brennan & Barnett, 2009) BookEnds seeks to provide student volunteers with the experiences that will create the next generation of readers and leaders to fill tomorrow’s charitable boards and civic halls.