I’m really excited about this project!
When the American Federation of Teachers-Massachusetts (AFT-MA), our local union’s state affiliate, approached our local union a year ago about hosting a First Book/AFT Books on Wheels event, we were intrigued, but the timing was just not right. We may have had to put the project on a back burner, but it was never forgotten. And here we are at the start of a new school year, ready to launch for an event to take place in less than 8 weeks. Things just got real!
The premise is really simple. First Book is a national non-profit with a mission to provide new books to children in need, addressing one of the most important factors affecting literacy – access to books. Through a unique partnership with American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the national affiliate of our local United Teachers of Lowell, we are planning to bring a semi-tractor trailer of new books (ages 0-18) – that’s 40,000 to 44,000 books – to distribute absolutely free to our teachers, schools, programs, and families right here in Lowell.
What is needed in return are 2,000 email addresses of programs and educators working with those children and families in need. By registering an email address, the owner can then access First Book’s Marketplace where brand new books are available for 50-90% off list prices. I personally used First Book’s Marketplace when I was in the classroom to round out my classroom library purchases (yes, teachers do indeed buy many materials) or to create a study set of a book a group of children were reading.
Our efforts toward earning the Books on Wheels Truck of 40,000+ free books kicked off last Friday with the newest faculty members at Lowell Teacher Academy orientation. We will begin recruiting all returning staff – teachers, administrators, coaches, paraprofessionals, custodians, cafeteria workers, therapists, librarians, school clerks, and tutors – beginning on Monday morning.
We know this is a unique opportunity to increase access to literature for our families. While a truck loaded with 40,000 plus new books is a.w.e.s.o.m.e. by itself, we are hoping to make this event even better. We’ve also established a gofundme effort to raise $5,000 which will allow Lowell’s English Language Learner expert teachers/coaches to select literature from First Book’s Marketplace of Books. Click this LINK to access our gofundme page and please, feel free to share with friends and neighbors.
8/28: (Calling out our First Book Lowell crowd funding link here: www.gofundme.com/firstbooklowell)
We will use any funds raised through gofundme to purchase books that are reflective of the cultural and language diversity in our community. If 500 people donate just $10, we will meet our goal, and if we exceed our goal we’ll be able to purchase even greater numbers of culturally appropriate books for our families and readers.
Our goal is to have everything in place for a Book Distribution on Saturday, October 22 at the Rogers STEM Academy. We are appreciative of Superintendent Khelfaoui’s support of this effort and especially grateful to Principal Jason McCrevan and his team at the Rogers STEM Academy for offering to host this event. More information on the Book Distribution and how you can help will be coming in a future post.
It takes a village, or in Lowell’s case, a city to make this endeavor a success. We are counting on everyone to help our village bring books to our children that will embrace the diversity of cultures and languages of our community.