Some 61 per cent of America’s low-income children grow up in homes without any books. These kids are, on average, three years academically behind children in homes with lots of books. Book Harvest changes this reality for children in North Carolina by providing families with books that they can take home, read together and keep forever, free of charge. In 2015, Book Harvest helped more than 20,000 children build or enrich their home libraries, giving out 112,183 books across two core programmes: book babies and books on break. Book Harvest has been an Oak grantee with the Special Interest Programme since 2014.
With 80 per cent of brain development occurring in the first three years, access to books starting at birth is essential to kindergarten readiness and long term school success. Book Harvest’s Book Babies programme provides 10 new, age appropriate books to low-income children every six months from birth until they start school. “Our students are coming to school ready to learn, wanting to read. They are wanting to select books to take home and read to their families,” said Cornelius Redfear, principal of Glenn Elementary, a partner of Book Harvest. A parent of a Book Babies participant says, “she loves to walk around the house with the books and bring me books to read to her.”
During the long summer break students can lose up to three reading grade levels if they don’t have access to books. Book Harvest’s Books on Break programme makes sure that children in local schools start the break with backpacks full of books. “We partner with elementary schools that serve a significant percentage of kids on free or reduced-price lunch. We go into the school library at the end of the school year, take it over and turn it into a pop-up book store,” says Ginger Young, Founder and Executive Director of Book Harvest. “Kids then choose ten books of their own to take home and keep forever.” In 2016, a total of 9,057 students from 26 elementary schools in four school districts selected 52,363 books to read over the summer and keep forever!
 Book Harvest, The Need, July 2016.
 M.D.R. Evans et al, “Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations”, Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, June 2010