Give Away Those Books

I spent my morning on the road delivering books to high school librarian, Jennifer Smith at Sullivan High School. I’d previously shared books with Kelaine Harman, the Corporation Library Media Specialist for Washington Community Schools. I’d found these librarians through our state school librarian list serv when I was looking for school with certified librarians but small library budgets. Small?? How about no budget!

Here I was with hundreds of books that had been sent to me while serving on the Printz committee and as I’d done while on BFYA, I wanted to get the books to school libraries in need. I was glad to find schools close to me so that it would be easy to deliver books to them. Washington IN has a population around 11,000 while Sullivan is around 3.000.

Jennifer is an Indiana State U. alum. She and several of her students met me at my car to carry books to the library. The media center on the second floor of the school library was cared for in such a way that I couldn’t help but feel the warmth. It was the kind of media center that made me miss my old job! Jennifer has been able to find grants to re-design and update her space, most recently with a Mac lab that supports the schools 1:1 adoption of MacBooks.

Kelanie picked up her books when she came to campus to pick up her daughter for winter break. Both she and her husband are ISU alum, so it felt pretty special to fill their vehicle with books in the parking lot. Kelanie sent me a letter thanking me for the books in which she mentioned the fact that her students had requested many of the titles that I donated and they were looking forward to her processing them and getting them on the shelf so they could read them as soon as possible. These are students in a rural town in IN with no bookstores and one library and young people who know books and who want to read. I’m just trying to realize the effort they make to be aware of books when there are so few around them.

But their school has essentially no book budget.

If you’ve served on an award committee or have had access to books, consider donating to schools. Boston Public Schools have no librarians and no budget for books. Volunteers place books in classrooms.

Quite often it’s not that young people don’t read, but they literally cannot find anything to read.

Do you have older books or adult books to pass along? If they’re worn and out-dated, throw them away. Get over the fact that they’re books; no one wants them. If they’re still relevant, there are many places to donate them. Only give them to a library if you know that library has a limited budget. Most libraries have books, you know? We often end up acting as a middle carrier, passing along your unwanted books.

My department chair, Brian Bunnett, collects books for the local jail and several little free libraries including one in the bus station. These are great ways to pass along good books. Jails are less restrictive about reading materials than prisons and just as much in need. Boys and Girls Clubs often have libraries for young readers, too, and I’ve donated to them.

Here’s my equation:

giving + books = community literacy


Know another organization in need of books? Comments, please!

3 thoughts on “Give Away Those Books

    1. Kathleen, you are so kind! You could send a copy to either of the schools. Kelaine Harman, Washington High School Library, 608 E Walnut St, Washington, IN 47501 OR Jennifer Smith, Sullivan High School, 902 N Section St, Sullivan, IN 47882


  1. Yes! I am looking for new or gently used YA books (will take ARCs if in good shape). The Tucson Festival of Books is the largest nonprofit book festival in the country, and my program, CATS (Creative Arts Teen Summit) Fiesta, brings about 300 Title I high school students to the University of Arizona campus on the Friday before the festival. It’s a chance for them to get a feel for campus and see themselves as potential college students. We have four authors and four illustrators who do workshops and signings with the students, and then they get a campus tour and free lunch. We specifically encourage the schools to choose students from the middle 50%–those who are not being tapped for “at-risk” programs OR for honors programs, and we ask them to choose students who already show an interest in art and/or writing. With so much emphasis on STEM these days, we like to show them that creativity and the arts are also valid, exciting career options. This year funding is scarce, but we want the students to leave with some swag to make sure they continue to be excited about reading. Ideally we’d like to send each school (8-10 of them) home with a set of one each of the authors’ books, but since we don’t have the money for that, we at least want to give them each a YA book or two, regardless of the author. The funding we do have is covering lunches, bus scholarships, binders/paper/supplies, and tote bags.

    I can provide a thank you letter with tax write-off information upon request. For more information, email Hannah Gomez at Any extra books not used for the program will be directed to the Teen Free Book Tent at the Festival, so they will not be wasted, and all will go to good homes.

    Books can be mailed to
    Hannah Gomez
    TLS department, College of Education
    University of Arizona
    1430 E. Second Street
    Tucson, AZ 85721

    Thanks in advance!


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