Book Rich Environments initiative distributes over a quarter million books in
36 public housing communities across the United States

Local distribution events will be happening throughout Summer 2017 in the communities on the map above.
Local distribution events are underway at sites across the country

Houston Housing AuthorityOver 270,000 books have been shipped to Public Housing Authorities across the country as part of the Book Rich Environments initiative, and distribution to residents is underway. The initiative, a collaboration between the National Book Foundation, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Urban Libraries Council and the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, is designed to combat “book deserts” by connecting communities with local libraries and other literacy partners, creating a vibrant culture of books, and helping young people build their own home libraries through book ownership.

National Book Foundation worked with partners in the corporate publishing community to secure donations of free, high-quality, and diverse books. Penguin Random House joined as the lead publishing partner, committing 200,000 books towards the initiative. Hachette Book Group and Macmillan Publishers also committed substantial donations.

“This initiative is unique in its multi-organizational, collaborative approach to connecting young people with books and other literary experiences,” said Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. “National government agencies, non-profit organizations, local partners, and the publishing community have all leveraged their unique resources to create a model that’s far reaching, but also responsive to each local community’s needs. That’s what makes Book Rich Environments impactful.”

“The Book Rich Environment initiative represents a wonderful opportunity to advance our mission of increasing the impact of books on the culture,” said Board Chairman David Steinberger. “We have been able to leverage our resources in order to directly reach more parts of the country, help more communities access books, and most importantly, help more young people grow as readers.”

“This initiative is unique in its multi-organizational, collaborative approach to connecting young people with books and other literary experiences.”

—Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation

New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is one of the 36 public housing authorities participating in the Book Rich Environment initiative, which will reach residents in all five boroughs with support from the city’s three libraries—New York City Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Library. “Books are essential for children developing reading and writing skills that will last a lifetime,” said Shola Olatoye, Chair and CEO of NYCHA. “This collaborative effort will bring 50,000 new books into NYCHA homes and have an immeasurable impact on young residents who we know will fall in love with reading, one book at a time.”

Local public libraries play a key role in connecting public housing residents with donated books by planning and supporting festive book distribution events held at public housing buildings, community centers, and local library branches, and providing opportunities for attendees to sign up for library cards. Distribution events began in May 2017, with many more events slated for summer 2017 as part of broader reaching summer learning initiatives. The first round of events is set to include a community barbeque in Cincinnati, a scavenger hunt in Springfield, Mass., and an innovative plan to turn the otherwise tedious process of Public Housing renewal into a family-friendly book distribution event in Houston.

Book Rich Environments Manhattan Kick Off Celebration

2017 SUMMER STORYTELLERS program wraps up with celebration aboard the intrepid

Participants in the 2017 Summer Storytellers program celebrated the end of a great summer by spending a day aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on August 15th. The event was the culmination of the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) citywide summer program, Cultivating Curiosity.

The day kicked off with remarks from astronaut Mike Massimino, who encouraged everyone to relentlessly pursue their goals in science, technology, and the arts-- no matter how difficult it might feel to achieve those goals. Storytellers participants joined their peers in presenting their work from the summer, including sharing finished printed copes of their original, collaboratively written books. Titles included: The Best Summer Ever, the story of a girl who takes her least favorite season and makes it great; Unexpected Guest, a tale of middle school social dynamics and unlikely friendships; and Monstrous Life, a chronicle of two siblings just trying to live a normal life... as monsters.

Summer Storytellers is an intensive reading and writing program for middle school students run in partnership with the DYCD, and in collaboration with BoomWriter, an online writing platform for young people. In Summer 2017, 200 students across 12 sites spent their summers reading and writing. BoomWriter facilitated a collaborative writing project, and as part of the Foundation's larger BookUp program, teaching artists facilitated reading activities that helped inspire students as writers, and encouraged them to grow as readers. BookUp celebrates student choice and values book ownership; Storytellers participants were provided with up to five books of their own choosing to add to their home libraries. Students were able to connect with the larger literary community as they received direct mentorship from their BookUp teaching artist, all published writers or literary professionals. Instead of falling into the "summer slump," Book Up: Summer Storytellers helps nurture young people's joy of reading and uses the summer months to build lifelong readers.