By Ann Daniels

What was your favorite book when you were a kid?

If that question brings back fond memories, try this one: What do you think it would be like being a kid without books?

That’s not a hypothetical question. A lot of kids in Oakland don’t have books at home. Too many schools don’t have school libraries and don’t have enough books in their classrooms.

We’re the East Bay Children’s Book Project, and we’re working to change that. Our motto is “Every Child Needs a Book,” and starting this month we’ll be writing a column for Oakland Local about what that means. We’ll talk about our work, about literacy, about other local organizations working to help kids and families and schools get books, about local authors and great books for kids and teens, and much more.

The East Bay Children’s Book Project opened our doors in May 2005, and since then we have given away over one million books to organizations that work with children and teens in need. We give away board books, picture books, chapter books, middle and high, nonfiction, biography, and a few more categories. Our clients include schools, literacy programs, day care and community centers, homeless shelters, churches, and health care centers in Oakland and beyond. They build libraries; they stock classroom shelves; they give books directly to children and families. We have a simple model, really: We give children’s and young adult books to the professionals who know where there is a need for them, and we let them fill that need.

Here’s the kind of thing people say about us:

“I’ve given away thousands of great books I got from you. Families who didn’t have books have built home libraries. Kids who barely read have become avid readers. We couldn’t have done it without you.” – A literacy program client

“The Polar Express is my most favorite book to read on Christmas. I like the book better than the movie. It’s not as loud.” – An elementary school student whose teacher stocked her class library from the East Bay Children’s Book Project

The East Bay Book Project has always been located in Oakland, and we’re Oakland proud. We’re staffed entirely by volunteers, and everything we have is available for free.

If you work for an organization that benefits children in need and you’d like to get books from us, all you have to do is visit us. We’re located in the Mosswood Park Recreation Center. You are welcome to come any and every day that we’re open: usually Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-6 p.m., and some Saturdays, but please check our website before you come to make sure we’re open.

Generous community members and organizations donate most of our books to us. You may have seen our purple and white book donation bins in local coffee shops or stores. There are plenty of other ways to donate to us too, and you can find out more on our website. You can also like us on Facebook.

We’re grateful to Oakland Local for giving us this column, and we look forward to talking with you about what’s going on in our corner of the world.

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. See our guidelines.

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