Reaching a Reader: Guest Post by Sarah Jamila Stevenson

Today’s Share a Story. Today’s topic is A Reader’s Universe. All day we will be exploring the different ways we read. Sarah Stevenson’s Reach a Reader project is just that kind of effort: a way to connect kids with books and get books to kids. I was so thrilled when Sarah said “yes” to participating in Share a Story … and as you’ll see, Sarah is pretty excited about sharing the story of how Reach a Reader began.

Sharing the Story Behind Reach a Reader by Sarah Jamila Stevenson

On a fundamental level, the appeal of reading—the love of books—is something that transcends format and aims straight for the heart of the human love for story. When I see book lovers doing their utmost to improve young readers’ access to the stories that might change their lives (or at least brighten their day), it is really awe-inspiring.

When I first heard about ARCs Float On, the brainchild of Sarah Mulhern @ The Reading Zone, I was definitely inspired. I had tons of ARCs sitting around–advance review copies, which are the uncorrected proofs used by book reviewers. Reselling them is bad for a number of reasons, but many reviewers and bloggers would like to find places in their community to donate these books. ARCs Float On is Sarah’s
grassroots effort to get ARCs into classroom libraries by matching willing donors with needy teachers. Donors and teachers would get in touch with her, and she’d match them up by location and grade level.

I got matched up with a few people and happily sent books their way. I thought it was fantastic. And it made ME want to do more, too. I figured I couldn’t be the only one who felt that way—and then I thought, maybe that’s how I can help. Maybe I can be the one to help others who want to help: help them find places to connect with those who need it. I knew there were plenty of other organizations that take book donations, and as a blogger, I knew plenty of people with review copies to spare who would be happy to find places to donate them. Many school libraries were in great need at the time (and still are), and I thought it would be great if there were a database where any needy school library could post its wish list and potential donors could look for schools in their area to donate to.

That’s how it all started. I got in touch with some like-minded bloggers: Sarah, Terry, Jen Robinson, Colleen Mondor, Jackie Parker, Donalyn Miller, and Carol Rasco; and soon after that, Reach a Reader was born. The mission of Reach a Reader was, in a wonderful way, broader than I’d originally planned.

ReachaReader dot orgReach a Reader became a clearinghouse to promote access to children’s and Young Adult books and authors: through donations, school visits, library visits, even virtual visits, with helpful links geared toward donors, authors & illustrators, and schools & libraries. And it became a new home for ARCs Float On, with a searchable database so Sarah wouldn’t need to do the matching work by hand. As someone who does a bit of freelance web design, I put together the site with help and advice from all those wonderful advisory board members I listed above.

Want to share a story in a concrete, tangible way? Please stop by Reach a Reader if you have books, if you need books, or if you have more resources to suggest: Here is what you’ll find @ Reach a Reader …

  • For Schools and Libraries – From ARCs Float On and Book Donation links to Author Visit (including Virtual Visit sites)
  • For Authors and Illustrators – Website Directories and Networks connecting creators and readers
  • For Donors – A robust list of places and ways to donate reading material

Thanks for stopping by, Sarah!

Follow Sarah …
Finding Wonderland (blog with Tanita Davis and CitySmartGirl)
@AquaFortis on Twitter

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