By Beth Casteel
Growing up, one of the earliest childhood memories that many children have is curling up with their parents and reading a colorful book full of whimsical fairy tales and great adventures.
For many, reading books at a young age marks the beginning stages of their learning development. Reading at an early age can greatly impact a child’s ability to read and write in the future.
Unfortunately, some children do not have the opportunity to read the stories that so many have learned to love. Without having a book in the home, some children can fall behind as books can help early brain development.
In order to help bring books to children who may not have them, the Kids Book Bank opened their doors in early 2015. The book bank serves a need by providing free books to children who would otherwise not have them.
Started by Judy Payne and Judi Kovach, the Kids Book Bank has brought more than 900,000 books to kids in the Cleveland area.
Striking a partnership with Discover Books, an online bookseller, they have been able to bring children in the Cleveland area thousands of books each month. The books that they are given are then taken to Little Free Libraries, or free book kiosks, around the area or given to schools.
For the books to get into the hands of kids, the Kids’ Book Bank relies heavily on their volunteers, who are the reason books are reaching so many kids.
The volunteers are the people who distribute the books that get taken to the different locations around Cleveland. A volunteer of one or a group of 20 has the power to make a big difference for the kids that would be receiving them.
After volunteering at the book bank in years past, Viking Expeditions, a volunteer based student life organization here at Cleveland State, decided to bring their services to the book bank once again. Hayley Drlik, one of the local service chairs for the organization, thought going to the bank would be a great chance for students to get involved in the surounding community.
“Students really love going there to volunteer, that’s one of our biggest turnouts because it’s something that all students can do,” Drlik said. “A lot of students see the books and they realize that this book might be in this reading level because it might be a book they read when they were a kid.”
After going through a brief tutorial on what book goes where, volunteers then get the opportunity to sort through books and put them into different bins based on age groups or reading levels. The books can range from picture books to high school level chapter books and it’s up to the volunteers to determine where the books go.
During their time sorting through books, Drlik has noticed that students who are participating will begin to talk with one another after seeing a book that they used to read or they will just start to have a casual conversation while working.
For Drlik, the Kids Book Bank have given students the chance to not only talk to one another and make new friends, but it has also given them a chance to walk down memory lane.
“[Seeing the books] was one of the best things that I think about volunteering because when I’m going through the bin, and looking at all the different books, it brings back memories of some of the books I’ve read,” Drlik said. “I think that’s a cool experience because it brings books that brought joy to me, to kids so they can have the same experience reading them.”