Remember your favorite book as a kid? Chances are, it was one you had in your home. You may even have written your name in it, to mark it as a cherished belonging.
Children living in poverty overwhelmingly miss the experience of having their own little bookshelf. In fact, 61% of low-income families have NO children’s books in their homes. Not a single one.
The reason is rarely that parents don’t appreciate the value of reading. Far more often, lack of stable housing is the cause. When a family moves again and again, anything beyond the bare necessities gets left behind.
That’s why the Bozeman Public Library partners with the Gallatin Valley Food Bank to provide gifts of brand new books, along with related craft activities and parent guides, to families visiting the food bank.
This month, children will receive a brand new copy of Karma Wilson’s Bear Says Thanks children’s book, along with scissors, glue, and other supplies to make crafts such as a gratitude tree. Also included is a parent’s guide on how to reflect upon gratitude with children—an evidence-based practice that is linked to increased happiness, even in children as young as five years old.
“Families often don’t have access to the Library or time to get books,” explains Lyra Leigh-Nedbor, the Children’s Nutrition Program Coordinator at the food bank, which serves 1,000 families per month. “The kids are always super excited to get these bags. Obviously, they think of it more as a fun thing than a tool, but it’s an amazing resource for their reading skills.”
Lyra and her team get plenty of thanks from kids for the books bags. After all, what kid doesn’t love a present?
Research shows that children’s feelings of gratitude toward living things—parents, teachers, and even pets—correlate even more closely with happiness than gratitude for material objects.
So while a cherished new book that a child can write their name in will certainly brighten a kid’s day, the adult’s guide, with practical tips to help parents use the story to connect with their children, may ultimately bring the most happiness.
Your donations directly enable the Library to buy books and supplies for the the food bank book bag program. Your gifts also promote equity in other ways, such as providing families with critical mobile internet access and bringing the Bookmobile to residents of rural communities and senior centers who may not have easy access to the Library.