Food pantries can feed children's bodies & minds!

a letter from the project's founder, pam leo

To everyone who cares about everyone learning to read:

On Sunday, April 24, 2016, I wrote the poem "Please Read To Me - a child's plea for love and literacy."
That poem was a gift. I don't normally even write poetry. So I began to Google family literacy

programs to see who was supposed to receive this gift. On every family literacy website

I found, I read the same startling statistics:

  • One in four children in the U.S. does not learn to read.
  • 2/3 of the 15.5 million impoverished children in the U.S. do not have a single book  to call                                               their own.
  • There is one children's book for every three hundred children in low income neighborhoods.
  • 2/3 of the children who are not reading on grade level by grade four will end up in prison                                                    

           or on welfare.

  • The number one indicator that children will arrive at kindergarten ready to learn to read is growing up in a home with lots of books and being read to daily from birth.

A few days later I heard on the news that they were gearing up for a food drive for the food pantries and suddenly it came to me: Collect donated books as well as donated food and give those books out at the food pantries so ALL parents can have books to read to their young children, so ALL children will be ready to learn to read. I decided to initiate a grassroots family literacy movement that would be implemented by the people, for the people. Unlike so many family literacy programs, that I could no longer contact because they had lost their funding, this project won't require funding. 

Each participating food pantry or WIC office will receive donated new and gently used, quality children's books from their local community via: book donation boxes placed in the local schools, day cares, churches, and libraries. Book Fairy helper volunteers will collect those books and deliver them to their food pantry where more youth and/or elder volunteers will sort, clean, and shelve the books for parents to pick out for their children when they come to get food.

The other way to get donated books will be book drives. We can partner with food drives and get double benefit for everyone's efforts. There is no shortage of gently used children's books, only a lack of the redistribution of them. This project provides many opportunities for volunteers of all ages and gives children a chance  to help other children by donating their outgrown or already read books. 

My goal for this project is that it will go statewide to every food pantry here in Maine, and then, "as Maine goes" so goes the project, nationwide, then worldwide. "Books change children's lives...for good." Our mission is: No Child With No Books.

My hope for this project is that the "right" people—those who feel as passionately as I do that learning to read is a human right—will hear of the project and use whatever influence they have in the world to help the book fairy and me to "make it so."

If you are one of those people, or you know of one of those people, who would want to support this project, I invite you to help make this happen for all the parents, and all the children who need what we can so easily provide, with a little love, a little work, and a lot of grace. Together, we can end poverty-caused illiteracy for FREE!

I have been saying, since I began working on this project, that it came to me with 1,000 angels attached. People have been helping at every turn. I hope you will be one of them. We can do this.
As the fairies say:
Fly with you,
Pam Leo

about pam leo

Pam Leo is a family literacy activist, the author of Connection Parenting and a new poem, and a future children's book, Please Read To Me. Pam has worked with children and families for more than forty years. From her work with teen parents, parents in prison, parents in recovery, and low income parents, she learned that all parents want very much to provide for their own children. She has "never met a parent who didn't want life to be better for their children than it was for them." Her enduring love of children's  books, her passion for literacy, and her commitment to empowering parents, are combined in her new role as the founder of a grassroots literacy movement, the Book Fairy Pantry Project, whose mission is "No Child With No Books" - because "Books change children's lives...for good."

☆ Read Pam's work on Kindred Media:

☆ Listen to the interview, 'Literacy and Bonding with Pam Leo: The Book Fairy Pantry Project', below. For the interview transcript, click here.

Pam Leo, project founder, age 1

Read me a story,
tuck me in tight.
Tell me you love me,
and kiss me goodnight.


The Book Fairy's plea for help with literacy

Wee fairies each have jobs to do.
The Book Fairy's job is to get books to you.
And to ALL the world's children,
not to just a few.

Books are very heavy,
even ones that are quite small.
A wee fairy cannot carry them
'cause she is only five inches tall!

The Book Fairy needs "helpers,"
grownups short and tall,
to get books to children who love them,
and to children who have none at all.

The Book Fairy really needs you.
The children need you too.
If there are to be books for EVERY child,
we have a big job to do.

Don't disappoint the fairies.
That would never do.
If ALL the children are to learn to read,
it is up to me and you.

Copyright Pam Leo, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

"After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing

we need most in the world."
—Philip Pullman

Books change children's

lives...for good!