Southwest Human Development hosts ‘Grow a Reader’ book drive

Local residents and businesses have an opportunity to support early childhood literacy during the month of May through Southwest Human Development’s virtual book drive, “Grow A Reader.”

The campaign aims to provide books for children in neighborhoods that do not have access to books. According to a Scholastic Access to Books report, the average child has 13 books in their home library, but children in low-income neighborhoods have just one book for every 300 children.

“For families that might struggle to put food on the table, books can be an expense that doesn’t quite make the budget,” says Jake Adams, chief development officer for Southwest Human Development. “‘Grow A Reader’ is an opportunity for everyone to support the literacy and development of kids who might not have access to books that help lay the foundation for them to succeed in kindergarten and later in life.”

Southwest Human Development is looking for “champions” in the community to support the effort and to share it on social media. To take part in “Grow A Reader” individuals or businesses can buy books through the organization’s online donation cart for children who need them most.

Those who participate can rally others through Southwest Human Development’s convenient and easy-to-use virtual toolkit, or can host information on the program in their businesses. The goal is to fund more than 10,000 new books for Valley children.

Additionally, the Steve Nash Foundation, Mountain America Credit Union and Libraries Ltd. have pledged matching donations to any contributions made this month totaling over $ 13,000. Books start at just $ 3.99 and donations are eligible for a dollar-for-dollar Arizona Charitable Tax Credit of up to $ 800.

“We are grateful to the Steve Nash Foundation, Mountain America Credit Union and Libraries Ltd. For their support of ‘Grow A Reader’ and their positive impact on our community, ”Adams said. “That means when people donate two books, it becomes four, or when people donate five books, it becomes 10. This is going to help us get more books to families throughout the Valley.”

Southwest Human Development also provides an incentive program for individuals and organizations.

For every $ 500 attributed to the individual or organization in the shopping cart, they will be eligible for:

  • A Reading Buddies Volunteer Experience for up to five people: Participants will receive all supplies to choose an animal, fill it with stuffing, create a birth certificate, and decorate its traveling case and a “passport” where they will write a letter from the animal to the child. Reading Buddies can be done in-person or as a virtual experience. These huggable stuffed animals will be shared with children in our literacy programs as a friend with whom they can practice their reading skills.
  • Raise $ 1000 and get 10 Reading Buddies, or a Little Free Library Build for up to 10 people: The experience will include all materials and supplies to build and decorate one library as well as staff to guide a team through the exercise and placement in a community where books are most needed.

Both of these opportunities can be completed in-person or virtually – and Southwest Human Development will customize each experience for convenience.

Donated books are distributed to families who participate in Southwest Human Development’s early literacy programs like “Raising A Reader,” part of a program that focuses on strengthening family literacy routines and community literacy connections, and “Reach Out and Read,” a national, evidence -based program that promotes early literacy in pediatric offices.

Ccontact Annette Sutfin, Senior Manager, Philanthropic Experiences, at or 847-366-4034.


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