This post was guest written by Tamari Turner of Near Things, a Lexington-based Kentucky culture and society website. The journalists who write for the site are also the volunteers who started the Beyond Book Fair & Drive to bring their love of literature to the next generation. You can donate your gently used children’s books through the collection box in the Good Foods Co-op Cafe through the end of January.
The importance of a home library is easy to overlook. Books cycle in and out of many homes at the speed of a page being torn by tiny hands. I can personally attest to that. My years working with preschoolers saw many a destroyed book. Even so, books were replaced. They were replaced many, MANY times. Taped, glued, stapled, tossed, traded for new books that match the week’s theme. Because we understood the power of a book in the hands of a child. Unfortunately, not all young learners have access to appropriate in-home reading materials. Not everyone has the resources to create a culture of reading and literary growth in the home. This is where Near Things finds its call to action. We created the Beyond Book Fair.
The Beyond Book Fair is your traditional children’s literature fair with a twist. It is 100% community-sourced and 100% free to hosting schools and their students. Simply, the objective is to provide the foundations of a home library with the hands of a unified community. This project is a double-edged sword empowering the youth and more seasoned members of Lexington’s community.
According to research published in the journal Science Daily, “being raised in a bookless home compared to being raised in a home with a 500-book library has as great an effect on the level of education a child will attain as having parents who are barely literate compared to having parents who have a university education.” Now, we do not plan on sending any single student home with 500 books, but by collecting just over 500 books total for Harrison Elementary we will be building the foundations that could still have an enormous impact on students’ literacy, not to mention a positive, lasting effect on their educational careers.
All of these things are the core reasoning behind our Beyond Book Fair. The students will simply see a book fair where there is no barrier between themselves and the goods. Administrators will experience a book fair where they are not required to build and break down displays or work as cashiers. Near Things will clean and sort all donated books, then carefully curate the space to emulate the book fair experience we all remember with such nostalgia. Every student will be allowed to explore, select two books of their own, interact with the ladies of Near Things and a diverse group of volunteers from their community.
But first, donations! Books will be accepted throughout the months of December and January. The first Beyond Book Fair will be given in February. Please, understand that projects like the Beyond Book Fair are driven by active members of our community. We need you to make this and the next Beyond Book Fair successful. Visit our website at nearthingsky.com to learn more about us and our projects. Stop by Good Foods Co-Op to donate your new and gently used K-5 children’s book, but first check out the donation guidelines below.
- The Beyond Book Fair seeks gently used or new books appropriate for elementary students grades K through five
- Gently used children’s books in good condition are welcome! We strive to provide books to students that are of current interest and of gift-like quality
- Culturally relevant and Spanish-language books are needed
- We are unable to find homes for severely damaged books, magazines, coloring books, textbooks, or removed library books with barcodes. Please take these items out of your donation.
We greatly appreciate your help curating quality children’s books! FINANCIAL DONATIONS will be collected through the Beyond Book Fair coin drive.
Contact the project coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to schedule a donation pick-up for any reason.
-Ari D. Turner