Earlier this month, I sent copies of my books to author Helaine Becker. She’s working on an “air lift” to send these books, along with hundreds of other donations, to impoverished schools in and around Long Beach, California.
Helaine got the idea during a visit to some of the schools in southern California. We’ve all heard the news about that state’s financial troubles, but she was still shocked to see how budget cuts and chronic underfunding had short changed the poorer kids of that state. In her words:
During a recent trip to Southern California, I was completely shocked by how bad the situation was there. Yes, we have problems here in Canada, but the way US schools are funded, through property taxes, makes the situation in poor school districts exponentially worse. In schools in Long Beach, library shelves were literally empty. Teacher-librarians are stretched past the breaking point.
She immediately launched a book drive, and succeeded in donating around 650 books to Barton Elementary School in Long Beach, California. The teachers there were greatly appreciative, and that inspired Helaine to do more. She has contacted authors such as myself through CANSCAIP
The underfunding of school libraries is an endemic problem throughout North America, but Helaine has identified an area where the problem is particularly acute, and she also sees this as a way of drawing attention to the wider problem. By having Canadian authors and readers stand up and reach out to school children in California, hopefully we can illustrate to others the importance of a well-stocked school library, and the need to keep these vital installations open, everywhere.
I was happy to send off a complete collection of my published works to the book drive, and I encourage others to do the same. If you have books that are in decent condition, which are appropriate to younger readers (middle school students preferred, but material for high school students is also welcome), then I recommend that you contact Helaine. You have about three weeks or so to send her books in time for the big shipment.
For more information on how you can help, please consult this post over on Helaine’s blog, and tell your friends. Do your part to help promote literacy, everywhere.