Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Children’s Book Project?

Children’s Book Project is a women-led nonprofit organization that provides under-resourced children and their shelters, schools, daycares, and community centers with free books and other resources. Our mission is to give free books to children who need them for equity in literacy, learning, and life. Since our beginning in 1992, the Children’s Book Project has given more than 3.1 million free books to tens of thousands of facilities serving hundreds of thousands of children in 32 counties throughout California.

Why donate books?

Research shows that children who grow up with books have an easier time learning to read, and have better outcomes in literacy, numeracy, and technology. In addition, evidence shows that reading aloud to children actually helps their brain development. However, many children in our communities do not have access to books of their own and attend schools and programs where books are in short supply. Encouraging reading is not enough when families do not have books.

What type of books do you accept — and need?

We accept donations of culturally-relevant, new and like-new children’s books for infants to teens in all languages. The demand for books for emergent bilingual children always exceeds our supply, so your gift of these books lets vulnerable children know they’re seen and valued, and improves their literacy, academic achievement, and lifetime outcomes.

How are the books collected?

Many of the books we distribute are donated through book drives at schools, businesses, and other institutions. We also receive books donated by authors, publishers, individuals, retailers, and community organizations. Many local businesses, such as bookstores and coffee shops, help us collect book donations by hosting one of our Book Drops.

What happens to donated books?

After the books are donated to our Book Bank, our team of part-time staff and volunteers sort them according to quality, subject matter, and reading level. Teachers, caseworkers, and other community service providers come to our Book Bank and select free books for the under-resourced children and families they serve, many of whom have never owned a book.

What programs do you offer?

Our Read Aloud Program shares best practices for early literacy along with new, culturally and linguistically relevant books with community service providers who work with low-income parents of children ages 0-5 years. Our Second Reading Program delivers high-interest, well-loved books to selected public locations throughout San Francisco so children can pick out books of their own for keeps. Our Teen Ambassador Program supports local high school students who want to help their peers access more free books and promote their love of reading. Finally, our Book Bank is the heart of all our operations, where book donations are processed and given away for children who need them.

When did the Children’s Book Project begin?

The Children’s Book Project began in 1992 with a book drive at Rooftop Elementary School in San Francisco. Parents were asked to donate their children’s outgrown books. Over 1,400 books were collected and given to facilities that needed them. By that year’s end, the Children’s Book Project (originally known as Second Reading) was a demonstrated success — 3,000 books had been collected and distributed. We currently give away about 140,000 carefully selected, free children’s books each year.

Who is on your staff?

The Children’s Book Project is run by a team of part-time staff members and a volunteer Board of Directors. We rely on dedicated volunteers to count and sort donated books, organize book drives, and perform other crucial tasks.

How do you obtain funding?

We are grateful for the generous support of private foundations, charitable trusts, the corporate sector, and our many individual donors.