Over five years ago, SAYL volunteer Jane Welch came to us with a vision to expand our end-of-year book giveaway program. As a Reading Buddy herself, Jane was aware that we gave books to our students at the end of the year to promote summer reading and to help start at-home libraries. She saw the need for all students, whether they had a Reading Buddy or not, to be given books. Starting with her own students’ class at Riverside Park Elementary in SAISD, she collected books donated by friends and neighbors, and gave them to all the students in that class at the end of the school year.
From there, Jane came to SAYL for support and thus the Book Buddies Initiative was established. The Book Buddies team gave out 5,558 books the first year in 2015, then 12,000 in 2016, increasing to 19,000 in 2017, up to 40,000 in 2018. This year they were able to give out over 60,000 books to 20 elementary schools in SAISD. SAISD has been a huge supporter for Book Buddies, providing not only warehouse space, but transportation of the books to the schools along with manpower to move the books when the donated books arrived at the warehouse. Without the continued support from SAISD, the Book Buddies team would not have been able to grow or continue at its current capacity.
To ensure the future of the Initiative and to keep the vision of providing books and promoting reading over the summer months, the Book Buddies team will be starting a new chapter this coming school year. We are happy to announce that the Book Buddies Initiative is now part of the SAISD Foundation. This move will benefit more students and in turn will help more students become life-long readers, a win-win for the SA community. We wish them well in their continued efforts and look forward to seeing their progress!