The Children’s Book Project gives books to children who need them for equity in literacy, learning, and life.
We aim to create a more socially just world by providing books for free to under-resourced children. Literacy attainment is directly tied to academic achievement and lifetime outcomes, yet children in economically disadvantaged communities do not have the same access to books as their more affluent peers. The Children’s Book Project is committed to closing the opportunity gap and lifting up our community by raising readers.
Founder Vicki Pollack, College Avenue 1998
Read Aloud Director Melanie Mickelson literally grew up with the Children’s Book Project — Vicki’s her mom!
Napoleon Street 2008
Book Bank 2022, back in the Bayview
1992: Children’s Book Project is founded by reading specialist Vicki Pollack in her home in Holly Park in SF, because “encouraging reading is not enough when families do not have books.”
1,400 children’s books given away
1995: Joined by Kathy Katz and volunteers, we give donated books to low-income kids at Bay Area shelters, schools, and public health centers from a rented basement on College Avenue in the Mission, because as Vicki says, “books show you a different world.”
Over 35,000 children’s books given away
2001: “There is a huge need for books,” says Vicki, as public school libraries in the Bay Area close due to several years of budget cuts.
Over 300,000 children’s books given away
2004: Serving more clients than ever with more free books, we move from the outgrown basement to Napoleon Street in the Bayview.
Over 700,000 children’s books given away
2006: “[Children’s Book Project] provides children with books [to] help civilization advance and stave off the forces of chaos,” writes Jon Carroll in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Over 1 million children’s books given away
2014: Vicki and Kathy retire and Napoleon Street rent doubles; our new board, led by President Risa Schwartz and Treasurer Annelise Goldberg, relocates the Children’s Book Project to the Outer Sunset.
Almost 2 million books given away
2020: COVID closes our doors to the public, so we pivot operations to deliver free books to the neediest kids. In November, we reopen our Book Bank in a bigger, brighter rented space on Palou Avenue in the Bayview neighborhood that Vicki says “is full of the most wonderful books, books, books!”
2022: Join us on Saturday, October 15 from 11 am to 2 pm at our community celebration “Books Open Your World,” marking 30 years of service. We’re grateful for the passionate support of all our volunteers, donors, clients, staff, and board members over the years, and honored by your commitment to our mission.
This year, we’ll give away our 3 millionth book!
Thirty years ago this Fall, Vicki Pollack founded our nonprofit to give free books to children who need them — and also to redistribute and give new life to outgrown but still valuable children’s books.
Since 1992, we’ve given away millions of books to low-income children all around Northern California — and more than 212,000 books since the start of the pandemic. Donating used books keeps them out of the landfill and allows them to recirculate into the hands of the young readers we serve, many of whom have never owned a book.
Running a children’s book drive is fun, draws your community in, and can last for as short or long as you wish, online or in person — it’s entirely up to you! We rely on book drives to keep our Book Bank shelves brimming with fabulous treasures all year round. Help us give even more beautiful books to children who need them most, while sustaining our planet and creating lifelong readers, learners, and stewards of the environment!
Our longtime supporter and friend Leonard Kessler, author and illustrator of beloved children’s books, died in February at age 101. We celebrate his creative legacy, as generations of readers treasure his message of inclusivity and acceptance.
When he was 6 years old, Lennie’s grandmother gave him a box of crayons so he could paint his own world. He went on to find his calling in writing and illustrating books for beginning readers that featured his open-hearted perspective on their lives and on the wider world.
Of his hundreds of books, Lennie wrote more than 45 with his wife, Ethel, a social worker and kindergarten teacher. In all his works, he brought not only his artistry but also his ability to relate to children, sharing their curiosity and taking interest in their concerns — even getting down on the floor to see things from their point of view.
The Children’s Book Project is honored by Lennie’s support of our mission during his lifetime, and now to be chosen by his family as the recipient of donations dedicated in his memory. Lennie’s legacy lives on in the lifelong readers who found themselves in the pages of his books.
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