"We have a lot of research out there that suggests some of the simple and most effective ways to raise readers are overlooked," Bond said.
Motivating students to be interested in reading, giving them reading materials of interest to them and then giving them opportunities to read can spark new habits.
"Those three things, whether you're applying it to reading or sports, have to be there," Bond said.
Donated books will be distributed to children in many different circumstances. Some may be in foster homes or staying in shelters because of abuse or neglect. Many more donations will go to children in families whose biggest problem is poverty, who have nothing left after paying bills and buying groceries.
"When you are trying to survive, you're not thinking about buying books," said Mary White, chief operating officer at Children's Home Society.
But poor children need access to books, too, and her agency routinely tries to put books in the hands of children who do not have easy access to them. She answers calls from families, other agencies and teachers looking for extra help for needy students.
"We want children to learn to read because if you learn to read your opportunities are far greater than if you don't learn to read," White said.
The Happy Valentine's Children's Book Drive welcomes new books, but used books are fine. Books should be clean and in good shape and appropriate for children.
Books that appeal to all kinds of readers are wanted. That means picture books and novels, but also board books for little ones, and non-fiction books about horses, dogs, cats, bugs, sharks, dinosaurs, pirates, sports, space and anything else that kids enjoy reading about. Joke books can be popular and inviting among new readers, as are "strange but true" science books.
"Very often the opportunity for children to read for fun gets drowned out with overscheduled children or because children are plugged in all the time," Bond said. In busy classrooms, many teachers feel like they cannot spare 15 minutes a day for students to read something just because it is of interest to them.
"Yet, we know when they do, they catch that reading habit, and the benefit extends beyond the school day," she said.
Reach Dawn Miller at d...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5117.