For the fourth year in a row, the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation (BBHLF) has delivered bags of self-selected books to every student at Treasure Forest Elementary in Spring Branch ISD, as well as over 40 other elementary schools throughout Houston.
Former first lady, Barbara Bush, had the vision to support literacy in the Houston area, and her son, Neil Bush, established the foundation that would fuel the love of reading for thousands of students for years to come.
The BBHLF My Home Library project would not happen without a lot of community support.
This year, Treasure Forest’s community partner, Air Liquide, donated $20,000 so that every student at the school could choose six books from an online “shopping list” in October. With donations like this one, BBHLF personnel purchased thousands of books. They hosted giant the Big Awesome Book Sort event, where volunteers stuffed the students’ book choices into individually labeled bags. Boxes and boxes of bags were delivered to the receiving schools.
At Treasure Forest on Tuesday, Dec. 11, volunteers from Air Liquide came to hand out the bags to each student in their classrooms. The excitement grew as each student unpacked their bags to rejoice at seeing and having the books they ordered six weeks ago!
As they received their book bags, the students also handed “Thank You” notes they had made to the Air Liquide volunteers. Several hugs also spontaneously occurred.
“We are happy to be here to support this school,” said Emma Chambers, corporate communications manager for Air Liquide. “Getting the books [right before the holiday break] will expose the kids to reading when they won’t have access to the school library.”
For some students, this was the third or fourth year they had received a bag of six books from BBHLF, so their home libraries continue to grow as their reading skills improve.
School librarian, Jazmine Castillo, is so appreciative of the community support it takes to make the My Home Library project happen each year.
“It is incredibly important for the kids to know we are all rooting for them,” she said. “Reading is important because it is used in every subject at school.”
Three other SBISD schools will be receiving My Home Library books for their students this school year: Housman Elementary, Hollibrook Elementary, and Panda Path School for Early Learning.
“We serve about 27,500 students across Houston each year,” said Kime Smith, BBHLF Director of Strategic Partnerships. She noted that books are luxury for some families, so being able to provide books for home will give students something to read when their teacher or librarian gives them an assignment to read 20 minutes each evening.
“Kids will read when given a choice, and with this program they got to choose which books they wanted,” said Castillo as she marveled at the generosity of the BBHLF and Air Liquide.
As the weather turns colder and winter break arrives, the image of kids curled up with a book is one that warms the heart. Thank you BBHLF and Air Liquide.
The BBHLF My Home Library program is one of several ReadSBISD initiatives to promote literacy in the district. ReadSBISD is coordinated by the Strategic Partnerships and Volunteers team. If you or your organization would like to support a literacy initiative in our district, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted by Becky Wuerth, SBISD Communications