Frequently Asked Questions
Our offices are located at 161 Rains Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203. We are inside the Nashville Public Television Building, next to Fall-Hamilton Elementary School.
Through our main programs - Books for Nashville's Kids (BFNK), Reading is Fundamental (RIF), and Ready for Reading (R4R) – we strive to cultivate a love of reading in Nashville's underserved youth through book ownership and enthusiastic volunteer Reading Role Models.
Book Ownership - BFNK & RIF: Simply put - we take in books (the majority come in through donations), sort and clean them up, and give these books to schools and other organizations serving kids in Davidson County. Books are also distributed through the RIF program each time a volunteer visits his or her classroom.
Reading Role Models - RIF & R4R: Trained volunteers are matched with classrooms in local elementary and preschools, where they have the opportunity to read aloud to their assigned classroom and distribute books (RIF) throughout the school year.
In addition to these programs, we hold Read Me Day celebrations each year in partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools.
Most of our books are donated by individuals, schools, businesses, organizations, publishers, and other generous folks in the community. Whether it be clearing a few books off of bookshelves or organizing a school or office-wide book drive, we are grateful for the generosity that brings books through our doors! Books for our RIF program are purchased.
We accept donations of new, like new, or very gently used children's books (ages 0-18) in new, like-new, or very gently used condition by appointment at our offices in the Nashville Public Television building. Please schedule an appointment here: https://bit.ly/BookDonationCalendar
We do our absolute best to find a great home for every book that comes through our doors. Each book is screened by volunteers or staff - new or like new books are sorted and prepared for distribution. Books are picked up by organizations serving disadvantaged children in Davidson County who then distribute the books to the children they serve. These include schools, places of worship, other non-profits, hospitals, barbershops, childcare centers, government programs, and more.
Used books are taken to McKay's Books to trade for store credit, which is then used to purchase new/like-new books for distribution.
Once we've processed your donation, a letter of receipt will be emailed to you for your tax-deductible gift.
Thanks for asking! We are always in need of books in excellent condition for children and teens ages 0-18, especially in the preschool-6th grade range. We also have a great need for cardboard boxes for packing books – document storage, printer paper cases, and beer or wine boxes are great! Check out our Amazon Wish List for specific titles we're excited about right now, and our Hands on Nashville Wish List for other items we can always use.
Used, damaged, yellowed, or worn books do not fall in line with our mission, as well as library books, encyclopedia sets, reference materials over 10 years old, manuals, curriculum materials, toys, cassettes, or VHS tapes. We have a limited capacity for adult level books.
McKay’s Used Books & More “buys, sells, and trades in books, movies, music, games, musical instruments, toys, and more!” If you would still like to support Book’em with your donation to McKay’s, we are always grateful for trade-in credit with which we can purchase children’s books (you may of course shop for children’s books yourself with the credit you receive to then donate to Book’em – we think it’s a lot of fun!).
LP PENCIL Box is a teacher supply store, providing free school supplies to MNPS teachers.
Last Minute Toy Store works "to happily provide free Christmas gifts and toys to the parents and guardians of girls and boys in Davidson County."
Make a financial donation to provide books for Nashville's kids – Book’em gets deep discounts on books and can help make your dollar go further. Contact Melissa at email@example.com for more information.
• Checks can be made out to Book’em and mailed to Book’em, Attn: Melissa Spradlin, 161 Rains Ave, Nashville, TN 37203.
• Credit card donations can be made online here. You may make a one-time donation, or set a monthly or yearly donation schedule here.
Adopt a RIF classroom, so more students can own books and have a great reading role model. Companies can adopt a Reading Is Fundamental classroom or several (such as a whole grade level) at a school near their location. Companies cover the costs of the RIF services and their employees get to serve as reading role models. ($500 per class) Contact Melissa Spradlin at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or if you would like to adopt a classroom.
You can give to Book’em through United Way, Combined Federal Campaign and Metro Employees’ Consolidated Charities Campaign.
United Way 7081
Anyone serving economically disadvantaged children in Davidson County, Tennessee. This includes schools, religious institutions, non-profits, hospitals, barbershops, government institutions, childcare centers, civic groups, summer programs, and beyond.
In general, the books we provide are new, like new, and gently used books of all types and genres. We believe there is a book out there for every child, so we try to include a wide variety of topics in each order – fiction and nonfiction, picture and chapter, modern and classic, etc. We also offer “Special Requests” including religious, holiday, bilingual/foreign language, activity, educational/teacher resource, self-help, recipe, & hobbies/special interest books.
Since our book selection depends on what is generously donated to us, we are not able to guarantee specific titles. However, it never hurts to ask! You are welcome to note any titles or topics you’d like to see in your order, and we will do our best to provide as many relevant books as we can.
In order to spread the joy of reading to as many kids as possible, we ask that you limit your request to one book per child served (an estimate is perfectly fine for situations where the number of children is unpredictable). We are able to fill four requests per organization per year.
While our mission focuses on book ownership, we understand the great importance of a robust classroom library to keep kids engaged with reading while in school. For this purpose we are able to offer the more “well-loved” books that come our way, which can either be requested from the “Used Books” section of our book request form or chosen by you at our periodic Used Book Giveaways. Please email email@example.com with your name and organization if you would like to be added to our email list for these giveaways.
Please note: Since used books are sorted more broadly than our regular books, requests for used books may take longer to fill. There are times when we are unable to supply used books.
Please request books at least 1 month before they are needed. We fill requests on a first-requested, first-filled basis, so the sooner you can submit your request the better chance you will have in receiving all your books on time. During our peak request seasons (April-June and October-December) or for larger requests (300+ books), we recommend requesting further in advance, if possible.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library “is a book gifting program that mails free books to children from birth until they begin school in participating areas.” If you live anywhere in Tennessee—good news!—you are eligible to sign up, and may do so here.
We rely on individuals as well as groups of volunteers to help us work toward our mission, and have a variety of opportunities available in each of our programs. Please submit a volunteer application if you’d like to get involved!
Reading is Fundamental – Volunteers read and distribute books to their assigned elementary classroom five times throughout the school year. The time commitment is about 1 hour per visit – 30 minutes in the classroom and 30 minutes selecting books at Rose Park Middle. You and your teacher set the schedule that works best for both of you, so this is our most flexible opportunity for reading with children. 18+ and you must be able to pass a background check. See the RIF section below for more information.
Ready for Reading – Volunteers read to a small group of preschoolers and/or one-on-one with preschoolers at their assigned early learning center once a week or every other week. The time commitment is about 30 minutes per visit. 18+ and you must be able to pass a background check.
Books for Nashville’s Kids – Our mainstay here is book processing, which involves cleaning, stamping, sorting, and shelving or boxing up books to prepare them for distribution. This can be done individually or with groups of up to 20 volunteers during our normal business hours. Evening or weekend opportunities may be available upon request for larger groups. We also need individual volunteers to fill book requests taking used books to McKay's.
Other – We often need transportation volunteers to help pick up book donations, office volunteers to help with data entry or envelope-stuffing, and volunteers to help with a variety of other projects.
At this time, most of our opportunities are best suited for high school-aged and older volunteers. We are open to the possibility of having younger volunteers help if an adult will be present to supervise, and will be glad to discuss this on a case-by-case basis. Kids can also help in other ways such as organizing a book drive or decorating and donating bookmarks to be given out by our RIF volunteers.
If you are in need of service hours for school or through an organization in which you serve, we would love to help! We are a small organization so the hours we can provide are subject to our need and availability. We do not offer court-ordered community service hours.
Reading is Fundamental (RIF)
Book’em administers the Nashville chapter of a Reading is Fundamental, the largest children’s literacy organization in the United States. RIF volunteers are placed in 15 Title 1 elementary schools in Davidson County to read aloud and give away new books to students to take home.
Anyone 18 years old and older can volunteer. Applicants must complete a two-hour training session and pass a background check. Visits take place during school hours.
Volunteers should plan to make five visits between September and May. Visits last for 30 minutes. Prior to each visit (but not necessarily on the same day), volunteer readers will need to go to Cockrill Elementary School to select books to give to their students. Total time per visit, including travel and book pickup/return, averages 1.5 hours per visit.
Visit our RIF Schools RIF Schools Map to see the schools we serve this year.
The volunteer will email the teacher to set up a convenient time to make a visit. Prior to the visit, the reader will go to Cockrill Elementary to select a variety of brand new books to take to the children to choose from at the end of the visit. The volunteer can also select some read-aloud books from our lending library. The volunteer reader will go to the school at the appointed time, read to and interact with the students for approximately 20 minutes, then let the children choose a book to keep. The reader will then collect the extra books and drop them off in a Book’em bin in the school office.
One of the important facets of the RIF program is the relationship between the volunteer, the teacher, and the students. Continuity is a key component to developing this relationship. While we do ask that our volunteers commit to the full school year, we are here to assist you should you need a substitute.
The need for RIF services is great, and we regret that we cannot provide RIF to every school that is interested at this time. However, any Title I elementary school in Davidson County is eligible. It is our mission to continue to grow this program and bring additional schools into our RIF family every year, and we’d love to add yours to our waiting list!
When adding a new school, we start with two grades in the first year and then add two more the next, and so on until we have the whole school. All teachers get a reading volunteer unless they specifically say they do not want one.
More questions or ready to volunteer? Email Melissa Spradlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.