Studies show that more than 60 percent of low-income children do not have age-appropriate books in their homes. A new Akron-area nonprofit is working to change that, and anyone with gently used books for young children can help.
Bright Star Books, Inc. works to put books in the hands and homes of limited-resource children, focusing on the crucial ages of 0 to 5, when many children without early learning resources fall developmentally behind their peers. Founders Christin and Keith Seher were inspired by their 3-year-old son’s reaction to learning that unlike him, many children do not have books to read at home. Pausing a moment, he earnestly responded, “Then we have to give them some!”
That simple idea has been quickly welcomed by area social service organizations eager to provide reading material to their young clients, as well as local groups and individuals, which have already donated thousands of children’s books to their effort. Starting this spring, Bright Star Books will begin formally distributing those books through a partnership with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) of Summit County, ensuring books are reaching the children who need them most.
Bright Star Books has a goal of providing 10 developmentally appropriate books each year to the more than 7,000 children ages 0 to 5 participating in the Summit County WIC program, and in the longer term, to do the same throughout Northeast Ohio.
Bright Star Books has recently received 501(c)(3) charitable status, and also runs programs that build libraries in transitional housing shelters and provides home library collections to the children of teen mothers. Bright Star Books installed the first Bright Star Library at Highlands Teen Pregnancy Shelter in August, and is planning to place a library at the Battered Women’s Shelter of Summit and Medina County’s new facility that will serve hundreds of children each year at a time when they need the joys and consolations of books the most.
There are several ways to donate gently used young children’s books to Bright Star Books.
Four area businesses serve as permanent sites where anyone can drop off donations. These include: The Learned Owl in Hudson, Sky Max in North Canton, Round 2 Kids in Cuyahoga Falls and The Little Gym of Brecksville/Sagamore Hills.
Also 14 Goddard Schools are running a collection drive for Bright Star Books throughout the month of January. These schools include: Twinsburg, Macedonia, Hudson, Fairlawn/Akron, Uniontown, Jackson Township, Broadview Heights, Medina, Highland Heights, Concord Township, Avon, North Ridgeville, Westlake and Strongsville.
Finally, those inspired to action can run their own book drive for Bright Star Books. The nonprofit’s website, www.brightstarbooks.org, features a Book Drive Kit with simple instructions and materials to run a book drive at their place of business, school, place of worship, neighborhood or community group. The website includes other ways to get involved with their work and information about the importance of early literacy to the lives of all children.
For more information, contact Executive Director Keith Seher at [email protected] or call (234) 206-2300.