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