“You can never have too many books for children to read.” — Charles Frontz, Principal of Laurel Oak Elementary School in Naples, Florida, reflecting on his students’ enthusiasm for reading. (2008)
Bring a Book, Bring a Friend® Fun’raisers first began in 2003 as a way to provide children at Laurel Oak Elementary in Naples, Florida, with more books to read in their school library. Five years later in response to mounting requests by other schools and organizations, the Fun’raiser became the banner for K is for Kids® Foundation,* a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization promoting children’s literacy and leadership [read note below about the origins of the name]; and the once-a-year-event expanded into a month-long series of fun’raising events and activities promoting books for children of all ages in February — the “Bring a Book, Bring a Friend® for Children’s Literacy Month.”
Teens are K is for Kids’ primary volunteers and host the “Kids Celebrate Reading” book fair and book drive each year on the Saturday preceding Valentine’s Day. (This day holds a special place in the heart of K is for Kids — the foundation’s story as a nonprofit began on February 14th in 2008 with a handful of young students, from preschool through high school, who gathered to volunteer for the first time in the library of North Naples Middle School.)
Now university students have joined our cause and are helping K is for Kids launch its national campaign by starting fun’raiser and promoting awareness on their college campuses and in their communities.
“Bring a Book, Bring a Friend for Children’s Literacy Month” is proclaimed by Florida’s Governor, the Collier County Commissioners and Naples’ Mayor and the message born from children’s mouths that they need more books to read continues to spread with the help of many community members and organizations: book drives, literacy events, and family fun activities are conducted by many supporters, individuals and businesses for children of all ages.
It’s easy to participate and organize your own “fun’raising”! Look below to see all the creative ways you can collect books and/or spread this important cause. Remember, “each drop fills the well” — one book donated to a children’s library can be read by many children over many years! At your next event, ask each guest to bring a book and then donate the books to the children in need in YOUR community. Just drop us a line and tell us about what you’ve done. You’ll be helping fan this grassroots campaign and inspiring others but more importantly, you’ll be helping kids have the books they need to read and succeed.
Would you like more ideas? Information and consulting about holding Bring a Book, Bring a Friend Fun’raisers are available through the Foundation to help benefit the children of any school, organization or community. K is for Kids also seeks volunteers, donors and sponsors to join its circle of supporters to help spread our message while we continue to expand our outreach — in 2011, K is for Kids community outreac benefited over 6,500 children most critically in need throughout Collier County via our three book donation programs.
To learn more about how to join our cause, organize your own fun’raisers or inquire about the eligibility for a grant of books from K is for Kids Foundation, please email info@KisforKids.org.
“From toddlers to teens, K is for Kids gives kids in need more books to read.”
AS K is for Kids launches its 2012 fun’raising season, we’d like to give special thanks to our sponsors, supporters and friend for our 2011 Fun’raising Season:
Mayor Bill Barnett,
the Collier County Commissioners, and
Governor Rick Scott
for recognizing this important literacy month;
Florida’s First Lady Ann Scott and
Margaret Cardillo, children’s author of “Just Being Audrey”
for being our featured guest speakers at the
third annual “Kids Celebrate Reading” Book Fair
at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Naples, February 2011;
the Naples Daily News
The Clawson Family
the Naples Times
K is for Kids’ Teen Advisory Team,
our Board of Directors and Advisory Council Members,
and all the moms who make volunteering so fun;
HMA, Health Management Associates, for their employee book drive;
and to all those who collected baskets of books from community members:
Collier County Sheriff’s Office,
Starbucks of Collier County,
Silverspot Cinema at Mercado,
Salon C International, and
Mon”Key” Bread Factory on Fifth Avenue;
and all the Authors who have joined our journey in 2011 — Robert Dean Bair, Margaret Cardillo and Lisa Fleming,
Caryn Sabes Hacker (Beuschel), Jenny Craig,
Doug MacGregor, Maureen Sullivan-Hartung, and Jim Adduci;
and to all the media specialists, teachers and staff who have joined our community.
History of Bring a Book, Bring a Friend® Fun’raisers
Why donate a book to a school library?
Volunteering in the school library, founder Karen D. Clawson saw the huge demand for new books and was moved to make a difference. Recognizing that a book donated to a school library “maximized the book-to-reader ratio,” she began spreading the children’s message that they needed more books to read. The media center had hundreds of books, but some collections were becoming worn or outdated. Keeping up with the children’s appetite for more books to read was always a challenge; couple with thinning budgets and ever-widening responsibilities contained in a library’s budget, new books were often lagging behind demand. (Books are just one small portion of the information resources needed within today’s modern media centers.)
Clawson began to recognize a way in which community members could help; it was a simple solution, but far reaching in its impact. She began talking about the power of one book. “When you weigh the facts,” explained Clawson, “the numbers are indisputable for donating even just one book to a children’s library, especially a public school library: The vast majority of our community’s children, in the tens of thousands, may be found in the public schools. In Collier County these children are invited to visit their library, or media center, almost every day the school is in session and check out books to read at home. Think about the potential to reach these children and inspire them by providing new stories and books! The vehicle is already in place — it just needs fresh fuel. Those of us who have entered a school media center recently see that books are NOT dying, they are greatly in demand — cutting edge nonfiction, contemporary fiction, up-to-date information resources; with the pace of technology today, keeping up has proven more difficult yet more critical in order to prepare our children for academic and life success.”
Clawson continued, “This approach — enriching school libraries — is a really a ‘no brainer’ when you add up the facts. First, let’s weight how efficiently it is using a parent’s or family’s time and expendable resources: Parents do not have to find time to take their child to a library or booksellers; nor must they worry about the money for gas to drive their child somewhere else; with budgets strained, parents do not have to find the money to buy to buy a book, so often a luxury in today’s households — the books in the school library are free for reading and children can continue bringing home new books to read all school year long if there the collections keep getting replenished. A steady bookstream and an almost limitless supply of books can be established, with help from the community. Another added bonus for parents is that their child has mentors — teachers and librarians — monitoring what they are reading plus they’re constantly challenging them to read more.”
“Now, let’s look from the donor’s perspective at their “investment potential” — this is really just a “low cost, high yielding formula — the amount of money required to purchase the gift of just ONE book for a school or organization’s library is minimal when compared to its outreach, in fact the effect is exponential when you consider how many children might read one book: Place one book in circulation and it might be read by many children over many years — dozens, even a hundred children, might enjoy its story or message! The book-to-reader ratio is maximized.” Depending on a book’s binding and popularity, the benefits can grow, she explained, “a hard cover book might have a shelf life of four to seven years, while a soft cover might last two to five years.”
How Bring a Book, Bring a Friend Fun’raisers Began
The first fun’raiser’s bounty of books in 2003 was an effort to “raise” books and the money to buy new books for students to read in their school library at Laurel Oak Elementary in Naples, Florida (the books were valued at $3,000; the next year GL HOMES became the first business sponsor when the fun’raiser was hosted in its community of Saturnia Lakes, setting the pace for what would grow into a $10,000 fundraiser). Marcia Kolmann, the librarian at the time, stated the need for books the best when invitations were sent out: “We have a wonderful problem keeping up with our enthusiastic readers!” Laurel Oak had over one thousand eager readers: by 2005 the swelling school grew to be the largest elementary school in Collier County, with 1,200-plus young students in attendance. And the libraries doors was almost always open: In Collier County at the time, students were invited to visit their school library, or media center, almost every school day; for Laurel Oak, that translated into HUNDREDS of students entering the “heart of the school” with the hope of discovering a ‘perfect’ book. The numbers were impressive — at its peak, daily circulation hit almost 750 books at Laurel Oak. The interest and demand was almost staggering; the arrival of new books was exciting news and the staff couldn’t seem to get them onto the shelves fast enough.
Clawson worked with school staff and organized a “Money for Books Drive” in 2002, a business partners project. When parents learned of the effort, they asked how they could pitch in and help, too.
Clawson began brainstorming about how to gather the community together in a fun event that could also benefit the students to two friends, Bonnie Winfield and Peggy Avalos. Having already approached the school’s principal, Charles Frontz, with the idea of raising more books for the library, the only things left was how. As fate would have it, Avalos had just received an invitation to a party that asked guests to bring along an arts and craft item to benefit a local preschool. “Why not ask people to bring a book?” she asked. Clawson decided to hold a luncheon where everyone in the school’s community could be invited, parents, neighbors, business people, and sponsors, thus, she added “bring a friend.” The idea was born and the first luncheon was held in Clawson’s own home. Afterwards, another mom said it sounded like a great fun raiser, and Clawson completed the name to what was to become a yearly event: The Bring a Book, Bring a Friend® Fun’raiser continued to raise thousands of books for the students of Laurel Oak for four years. (For the last two of those year, Clawson also organized “April No Fool’s Day Book Drive for Teachers Classroom Libraries as well.)
It wasn’t long before more requests for the fun’raiser began poring in from other schools and then other organizations, asking for a Fun’raiser to be organized for there children as well.
About the name “K is for Kids”
The name K is for Kids® was an immediate hit with our founder Karen D. Clawson for several reasons; one of them — the name’s first three letters, ‘k’ ‘i’ ‘s’ is also the acronym “KIS” – ”keep it simple.” Also, reference to the alphabet tied in with Clawson’s children’s birthplace — “A is for Apple, B is for Boy” …. and often “K” is for “Kangaroo” — with both Clawson’s daughter and son having been born in Sydney, Australia, the kangaroo seemed appropriate [indeed, the marsupial was almost adopted as the Foundation's "mascot" complete with a "joey" peering out of the pounch!]. People sometimes ask Clawson if the “K” in “K is for Kids” refers to her name, Karen, but that was only an added plus.