Book drive gives underprivileged kids access to books

Natalie Gray

Across the country, children from lower-income families are deprived of the opportunity to have books at their disposal.

“In poor communities there is approximately one book to every 300 children,” said Celeste Roseberry of the speech pathology and audiology department. “There are a lot of things that contribute to a lack of success in reading and one of those is just a lack of children’s books.”

In 2008, Roseberry started a project for the masters program where the students needed to collect 500 early literacy books. After reaching the goal, Roseberry continued the book donation drive in honor of her mother for always providing books to her children, despite growing up in a poverty-stricken community.

“We never had TV, but we always had books,” Roseberry said. “It was such a huge part of my growing up that I started thinking of what I could do in my little corner of the world in my busy life to make a difference for these underprivileged kids.”

As of today, the book drive has collected approximately 24,600 books, 5,000 of which were personally donated by Roseberry. The goal is to reach 50,000 by December.

Roseberry donates the books to 20 different agencies. Much of the earlier donations came – and continue to come – from Bayside Church in Granite Bay and 17,000 books were donated from Sacramento State students in the speech pathology and audiology department.

One program Roseberry has been closely connected to is Reading Partners.

The Reading Partners program is dedicated to helping children who struggle with reading. The program focuses on helping children from low-income communities by giving one-on-one instruction and recruiting volunteers to work with the kids.

“The majority of donations have come from my students. About 60 to 70 percent actually,” Roseberry said. “But I would love to see other departments and students from different majors get involved.”

Several of Roseberry’s students have been inspired to take the book drive even further. Junior speech and language pathology major Krista Solway has donated 426 books to the book drive already.

“I wanted to help out the cause, so I took it upon myself to work with the school Vincent Shalvy.” Solway said. “The book drive, ‘Pay it Forward’ encourages every student to donate two lightly used books. Those books will then be donated to another school that doesn’t have enough books.” 

The issue of underprivileged kids not having access to books in their home is bigger than falling behind in grade school, Roseberry said.

“There’s a strong correlation between literacy and what kind of job you can get,” Roseberry said. “Many people who grow up illiterate will turn to crime to support themselves. It’s a vicious cycle and the reason third grade is the age group most focused on is because this is the time where children are no longer learning to read, but reading to learn. So those who are behind in third grade may never catch up.”

This book drive is a chance for the community to give back to those in need, without spending any money.

Junior speech pathology major Nora Shimoda believes most people could go through their storage units and garages and find books they no longer need.

“I think this is a great idea,” said senior social work major Nadina Faliy. “I have worked with underprivileged kids and have bought books for them, so this is very important to me. The idea of giving back to those who don’t less fortunate is something we could all agree with. I plan to get involved now and I think she can reach the 50,000 goal.”

The drive extends beyond Sac State’s campus. Parents around the community and even people from other states, like New Jersey and New Mexico, are getting involved. Roseberry was even contacted about the book donation drive by someone who had attended one of her workshops in Toronto.

“I think a professor willing to take that amount of time out of her daily life to not only donate her time, but her resources to underprivileged communities is amazing and well worthwhile,” said senior kinesiology major Josh Kalista. “I would absolutely get involved with this.”

Nancy Archer is a parent who donated 200 high-quality books and has gotten her son’s Boy Scouts troop involved with donating books to the cause.

“My son Nicholas is in Boy Scout Troop 111 in Davis. We are planning on working on collecting books during March and April at our weekly meetings,” Archer said. “I am still working with the leaders to make this an official project and hoping to tie it into the theme ‘March into Literacy’ month.”

Archer’s youngest child is 7 years old, so she said there is little use in her house for books meant for younger age groups.

“My youngest has become a lover of books as well,” Archer said. “But as she matures she has outgrown her beginner books. Because of this, we have many books we would love to donate and feel the book drive has come along at a good time for us personally.”

Nancy is one of many donors who hopes the book drive can help children who do not have easy access to books or who struggle with keeping up with their classmates.

“It becomes addictive seeing the joy on the kids’ faces and the eagerness of people to get involved out of the kindness of their hearts,” Shimoda said. “It inspires me to see the power of volunteerism because change has to come from people who are willing to give back.”

All books can be donated in a box located on the first floor of the speech pathology and audiology department in Shasta Hall. The book donation drive ends on April 30, but book donations will always be accepted.