Book Giveaways Bring Smiles

Three girls holding up children's books.

What’s more fun than giving free books to children? Well, nothing we know of, really!

Goddard Riverside partnered with the federal department of Housing and Urban Development, NYCHA, the New York Public Library and other agencies to give away thousands of books to public housing residents at two events in June. One giveaway was at our Beacon program; the second was at our Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center.

“I’m a teacher so I know the value of books. It’s wonderful to get them for free!” said Rashamella Cumbo, who brought third-grader Zion to the Lincoln Square event.

“He likes the Star Wars books. He loves mysteries,” she added as Zion avidly sorted through a stack of colorful paperbacks.

The events were part of the Book Rich Environments program, launched by the National Book Foundation in January 2017. The program is designed to reach families in so-called “book deserts,” or neighborhoods with less access to reading materials. By the end of the year, BRE will have given away more than a million books.

“When we launched the Book Rich Environments program, we had this big dream of giving away a million brand-new, great books, which at the time felt like this enormous, daunting goal,” said Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. “With the help of our incredible partners, we have been astonished at what we’ve been able to accomplish over the past three years. One million books is just the beginning for us.”

Both English- and Spanish-language books were available at our events, by such noted authors as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Roald Dahl, R. J. Palacio and Angie Thomas.

Goddard has a longstanding partnership with the publishing industry and reading is built into all our programs for young people, starting from Early Childhood. So the BRE events were a natural fit, said Steven Portericker, our associate deputy executive director for youth and aging.

“The best part was just seeing little kids and older youth light up when they saw all the tables of books,” he added. “That never gets old.”