I had bins and shelves crammed full of books for my third graders. Books with colorful, creative, eye-catching covers strategically displayed to pique my students’ curiosity. There were daring characters and funny stories, poetry, and tales of the Wild West. My library was complete…until Paul* couldn’t find a book he wanted to read.
Paul was one of those students who struggled with reading, but kept trying to devour books that weren’t quite right. eBooks didn’t exist at that time in the 90s, and since my library was funded from my own personal money, I didn’t have extra to buy books on tape. But I was determined to find a book for Paul, so I went hunting for books that would appeal to him. I searched thrift stores, went to countless garage sales, talked with other teachers about borrowing, combed through the city library’s sale piles, but in the end, I ended up buying books for Paul at the bookstore. I couldn’t afford it, but I knew Paul couldn’t afford not to read. Attending a school where resources are tight shouldn’t keep my students from getting the reading material they need and deserve.
How BookMentors Can Change Your Classroom Library
Jennifer Soalt, teacher, reading coach, and founder of the new site BookMentors.org, might agree. Her vision of a place where book lovers can unite and not only discuss books, but help get books, the right books, into the hands of teachers and students across the country stemmed from her experience working in a low-income school. “For reluctant readers,” Soalt explained, “a bright new book, specifically chosen by a teacher for them can make a huge difference [in their] motivation.”
So, how does it work? Teachers can request specific books for their classroom and the book requests are then presented to the community. Individual donors can choose to sponsor a teacher’s request and purchase the book for them. It’s micro-patronage at its best and it’s all done through the secure Book Mentors site. PayPal is the donation payment option and the books are shipped directly to the teacher. Those who are donating don’t have to worry about packing books up and shipping them, as that’s part of the Book Mentor service. The longest part of the process is deciding which projects to fund.
It’s micro-patronage that brings great books into today’s schools. It’s finally, finally giving teachers a chance to request and receive the books that will mean the most to their students. It’s a chance to help all students feel like successful readers. And it’s free to use. There’s no charge to sign-up to request books and there’s no charge to sign-up to donate. All donations are tax deductible and donors get notification of when the books have shipped to the teacher they donated them to.
Helping to end a lack of access to great books is BookMentors.org’s mission. Won’t you help support it?
Teachers: Sign-up to request books for your classroom here.
Donors: Search for book requests that are awaiting funding here.
Parents: Start a book drive for your school here.
*Student’s name has been changed for privacy.