New program puts books in the community

Traci MurphyAug. 13, 2021
Photo collage of book distributions at the Child Protection Center, Amethyst Place and River of Refuge.

If you know Lead to Read KC, you know we pair adult Reading Mentors with elementary students. But did you know we also give books to teachers for their classroom libraries — and put books in the hands of children to encourage reading at home? After 18 months of interrupted learning during the pandemic, we’ve expanded our reach to get even more books into the hands of young readers in our community. Our new initiative is called “Reading Is Everywhere(SM).”

According to The Literacy Project, reading and being read to has an impact beyond just hearing stories, but 61 percent of low-income families have no books for their children in their homes. In middle-income neighborhoods, the ratio of books per child is 13 to one; whereas in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is one age-appropriate book for every 300 children. Lead to Read KC is working to improve those numbers.

Reading happens everywhere, not just in school,” Pauly Hart, Lead to Read KC Executive Director said. “That’s why Lead to Read KC is expanding its book distribution program to reach children and parents where they are. Sometimes that means while they are living in transitional housing, waiting for an appointment, or running errands with their parents. We hope by placing books at key locations in the city, children will begin to adopt the habit of reading wherever they may be — not just in school.” 

The more a student reads, the more likely they will achieve success in school — and in life. If a child reads for 20 minutes every day, they are exposed to about 1.8 million words of text every year!* And a separate study involving almost 10 million students showed only those reading at least 15 minutes a day achieved accelerated reading gains. Those reading less were at risk of falling behind their peers.

To help children catch up and keep up on their reading skills, we recently distributed 445 books to Amethyst Place, the Child Protection Center, River of Refuge and Sheffield Place for the children they serve. We’ve also handed out books in the community, including the Blue Valley Homes Association’s Neighborhood Block Party — and at a recent Kansas City Monarchs game, where young fans attending the game picked up books. 

“When families hit our doors, it is always during a very traumatic time in their lives. To be able to offer them some measure of joy through a good book is invaluable.  We are so very grateful for Lead to Read KC making this gift possible,” said Lisa L. Mizell, President and CEO of Child Protection Center. 

Since our founding in 2011, we have distributed more than 22,000 books. Many thanks to everyone who has donated! Letting children choose their own books to take home leads to more engaged readers and learners**, and we want to get even more books out into the Kansas City community

Do you know an organization we could partner with — to either receive a book donation or help us distribute books? Or are you interested in hosting a book drive?  Read our Book Donation Guidelines to learn more or contact Lisa Waters at with questions or to get started today.

Lead to Read KC at the Monarchs
Volunteers Steph Carnahan, Traci Murphy and Christy Khamphilay, along with Lead to Read KC Site Coordinator Krista Harper, staff our book gifting table at a Kansas City Monarchs game.
Jessica Favrow of Sheffield Place accepts a book donation from Lead to Read KC.

Check out this story from Kelly Eckerman of KMBC 9 News about our “Reading Is Everywhere” book distribution program. Many thanks to our wonderful community partner KMBC 9 News!


**Reading is Fundamental