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A Note from
BFK's Executive Director

"We see books as a bridge. They’re a tool to inspire joyful experiences around literacy. They connect readers to places outside their immediate world and allow them to see what possibilities may exist for them they may not have previously been aware of." - Justin Bray, BFK Executive Director

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The most frequently asked question regarding the work we do at Books for Keeps is “how do you know what books kids want to read?” 

 

It’s my favorite question because the answer couldn’t be any simpler: We ask them. 

 

We take into consideration the types and titles of books kids want to be reading by surveying them at the beginning of the year and then again after they select their books to make sure that we got it right.. From there, we make adjustments on our purchasing habits every year to ensure that we’re sourcing and providing books that kids can get excited about. 

 

Books are the beginning, not the end, of what we do at Books for Keeps. We see books as a bridge. They’re a tool to inspire joyful experiences around literacy that children can forever associate with learning. They connect readers to places outside their immediate world and allow them to see what possibilities may exist for them they may not have previously been aware of. It's a series of links: reading to learning to literacy to lifelong skills. 

 

I don’t think it’s realistic to make readers out of every person we come into contact with. But I do think I can help you find a book about the thing you’re most enthusiastic about and help lead you to a path of being a lifelong, enthusiastic learner.

 

We see book access as supporting children's autonomy to choose what, when, and how they will read.  We have to give them the opportunity to make those choices. If we’re choosing what, when, or how kids read without including them in the process - they’re less likely to pick up reading on their own next time. We have to give them the opportunity to say ‘no’ as well. Whether that’s to a certain title or to reading when they’re not ready or interested. If the only possible choice is ‘yes’ then it’s really not much of a choice at all, but simply the illusion of choice.

Ultimately, I believe that to be effective in our work (and in everything, honestly), we have to first build relationships with our youngest citizens. Listen to their wants, needs, dreams, and desires. Figure out what makes them tick and then support them on their path in a way that is personally meaningful to them. Help them see what waits ahead for them by using books as windows to allow young readers a view of the endless possibilities the world can offer them.

Thanks for being you, 

Justin Bray

Executive Director, Books for Keeps 

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