My Very Own Book program gets books into the hands of kids who need them

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Donation box for My Very Own Book at Hills Bank in Old Capitol Mall, April 16, 2018. — photo by Paul Brennan

The third annual children’s book drive led by the United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties (UWJWC) is underway. “My Very Own Book” aims to get books in the hands of young kids who might not otherwise have access to them.

“When children have more access to books at home, they are more comfortable with reading and have better outcomes in school,” Patti Fields, vice president for community impact and engagement for UWJWC told Little Village. “According to data from Reading is Fundamental, a child from a home with 25 books will complete two more years of school on average than a child from a home without any books.”

On the UWJWC’s site there is a list of the locations of the 62 collection boxes where people can drop off new or gently used books for kids in the pre-K to sixth grade age range. In 2016, the drive collected more than 3,300. Last year, the total passed the 5,000-book mark. This year the goal is to collect 6,000 books.

“This year, for the first time, two of area high schools, Iowa City West High School and Liberty High School, are collecting books for us,” Fields said. “We reached out to the schools, and there was an immediate response and excitement from the students. It’s absolutely great.”

The collection drive runs through April 30, and the books are then distributed through local programs that serve the needs of children from low-income families.

“Early literacy is so important,” Fields said. “If kids are reading by 3rd grade, it sets them up for greater success in school.”

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