Update 4/16/20: To help meet the immediate needs of the Nashville community more fully, we are expanding our original Spring Clean Quarantine book drive into a book & food drive - supporting both Book'em and Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee all at once! The overall process remains the same, but we encourage you to consider donating non-perishable food items along with your books. Food and books alike can be brought to Book'em once the Safer at Home order is lifted. Spring clean your bookshelves and pantry to help nourish both mind and body in our community!
While we're all dealing with a lot of uncertainty right now, one thing's for sure - our community is desperately in need of basic resources to continue thriving during this time. Books and mental stimulation are needed to keep kids on track while out of school, and a having a well-fueled brain and body is critical in making this possible. During the average summer break, students who aren't reading at home can lose 2-3 months of reading gains made throughout the school year - just think how much our kids stand to lose during this extended time out of school. With libraries closed and access to many resources cut off, having books and meals at home is more important than ever before.
Book'em is taking care to safely distribute books while the Safer at Home order is in effect. We are working to provide families with books at MNPS' meal distribution sites, but our bookshelves are quickly depleting. Second Harvest is providing these meals to kids who would otherwise be missing the school breakfasts and lunches on which they've come to depend. Second Harvest is in great need of donations in order to replenish their shelves as well. While the ultimate consideration of public health limits our ability to receive donations as usual right now, there are thousands of kids who will need books and food when the Safer at Home order is lifted - we need your help to make this possible!
Please join us--from the safety of your home--for a Spring Clean Quarantine book & food drive! You can support health and  literacy in our community, get a little spring cleaning in, and give your kids a fun project to rally around all in one fell swoop. Here's how it works:
  1. Look through the books you already own (for kids ages 0-18) and decide if there are any you're ready to part with. Remember, they'll all find a great home with a child in Nashville!
  2. Add any unexpired, non-perishable food items from your pantry - peanut butter, canned meat and veggies, pasta, or cereal are great places to start.
  3. Pack them up in any boxes, bags, or other containers you have lying around.
  4. Spread the word! Invite your friends, family, coworkers, small group, or neighborhood to join in and gather books and food from their shelves too, and don't forget to  share on social media using the hash tag #springcleanforbookem! Donating your collected items together can be a fun social activity for everyone to look forward to.
  5. Save books and food until the Safer at Home order is lifted and it is okay to bring your donation to Book'em. When that time comes, just email books@bookem-kids.org or give us a call at (615) 255-1820 to schedule your drop off.


Tips for a great book drive:

  • Make it meaningful. Talk with your kids about the importance of sharing with those who have less - there are kids just like them in our community who have very little food or books at home. Book'em partners with over 160 schools, nonprofits, day care centers, and other organizations in Davidson County to reach these kids, and every book makes a difference. Second Harvest provides food assistance to over 460 community partners across 46 counties in Middle Tennessee.
  • Get creative. Have kids decorate their collection box and you may see it featured on our social media! Heck, if you don't have kids we'd love to see your art too! We often reuse boxes when we distribute books, so your designs will spread joy over and over.
  • Set a time frame. Even though we can't be sure how long Safer at Home will last, setting some parameters can help a book drive feel like a project to rally around rather than a nebulous activity with no clear end. This can be especially helpful if various households are participating. Pick a single day or week and encourage everyone to collect books at that time to create a sense of unity. Some ideas:
    • April 27: National Tell a Story Day
    • April 30: El día de los Niños/El día de los Libros (Children's Day/Book Day)
    • May 2: Harry Potter Day
    • May 4-10: Children's Book Week
  • Turn it into a challenge. Stir up a little friendly competition in your neighborhood Facebook group to see who can collect the most books, or set a goal amount of books and inspire your child's grade, classroom, or group of friends to reach it collectively.
  • Use the power of the internet. Sharing about your book drive on social media can inspire a chain reaction of generosity and an invitation to community in these times of isolation. We'd love to see what you're up to, too! Please use the hash tag #springcleanforbookem and tag us @Book'em on Facebook, @bookemkids on Instagram, and @BookemNash on Twitter.
Our goal with this drive is to prepare for a strong comeback after the pandemic, but books and food are also needed right now. If you'd like to donate books in other ways to help with immediate needs, you can participate in our VIRTUAL BOOK DRIVE - hop online and shop local for books for youth ages 0-18. Shop at Parnassus BooksFairytales BookstoreThe Bookshop, or your favorite online source for children's books. We welcome books of all types and topics, but feel free to check out our Amazon wish list for some of our favorites!
Non-perishable food items can be donated at your local Kroger - just look for the Second Harvest donation barrels near the entrance and drop off food after your next grocery trip.
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