Helping Boise State Students Put Books in Every Home

Guest Writer:  Tara Penry, Boise State University

An English Literature class has teamed up with Rediscovered Books and local nonprofit Book It Forward! Idaho to put Books In Every Home this Thanksgiving.

Seniors majoring in Literature at Boise State University are raising funds to purchase books for children in Title I schools. They will visit first grade classrooms just before the November holiday break to read aloud, share favorite stories, and donate gift bags of books.

According to the research of project partner Book It Forward!, most children from low-income families have no access to books at home. While families with higher incomes average fifty books per child, low-income homes average one book per three hundred children. The soon-to-be English graduates hope to change that statistic in Boise by sharing their love of books with beginning readers in Title I schools and sending children home with treasure chests of imagination they will want to open again and again.

Books In Every Home had its inception on the annual Idaho Gives day in spring 2017, when Dr. Tara Penry, a Boise State English professor, began hatching the idea of a service project for her Fall capstone class in Literature—a class that asks seniors in their final semester to apply the knowledge, skill, and perspective acquired during college. In August, the seniors voted enthusiastically to put lovingly selected books in as many homes as they could reach. With the help of experts at Rediscovered Books, they are choosing works of fiction, nonfiction, whimsy, and verse to purchase with donated funds.

Two members of the team, Brennen Keen and Shannon Brennan, will greet visitors at Rediscovered Books on First Thursday, November 2, to answer questions about the project. Summing up the motivation of his classmates on the project’s website, Keen writes, “Thank you to the community that has supported our education and fostered our love of reading. We hope we can return the favor.”

Book lovers can track the progress of the campaign and support it at https://ponyup.boisestate.edu/sharebooks. Fundraising ends November 4. Donations are tax-deductible and eligible for the Idaho tax credit for gifts to educational institutions, since they pass through the Boise State Foundation on their way to Rediscovered Books, and eventually into the backpack of a child who will spend this Thanksgiving holiday with her nose in a book.