CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Today begins The Charleston Gazette's second Happy Valentine's Children's Book Drive.
From now until Feb. 14, the Gazette will collect new and used books for children of all ages.
Book drive partners Children's Home Society and Read Aloud West Virginia have again agreed to help distribute books to children around the state. Both Kanawha and Putnam county libraries have again agreed to serve as collection points.
Last year, generous readers contributed more than 10,000 picture books, board books, comic books, early readers, chapter books and nonfiction volumes. They went to children in all regions of the state through after-school programs, community centers and other contacts.
"It would be fabulous to make even more books go out to homes that may be affected by library cuts and to children who are generally in need of a good book," said Susan Shumate, vice president of The Daily Gazette Co.
Last year, Sacred Heart Grade School in Charleston took the book drive on as a community service project for Catholic Schools Week and gathered hundreds of books to share with other children.
"Hopefully, we'll see other schools take the same initiative," Shumate said.
Grandview Elementary School Principal Erin Sullivan has already agreed to participate. Students, staff and friends of the school will gather organize a project around the book drive said Grandview librarian Kelli Ellis.
The book drive was created last year by Gazette Publisher Elizabeth E. Chilton to help put engaging reading material in the hands of children who need it.
For decades, researchers have documented that having access to reading materials makes a difference in how well children learn to read, which then influences school performance, test scores and even how far children go in school. Level of education leads to employment, of course, but also influences lifetime earnings and even health.
One study at the University of Nevada found that having even as few as 20 books in a home was associated with a significant educational difference. The difference was clear whether parents were rich or poor, highly educated or not.