For the fourth year in a row, hundreds of students in Duval and Nassau counties will receive free books to add to their at-home library. This was made possible by the generous donations from residents across Jacksonville.
The fourth-annual ReadingPals Book Drive, led by United Way of Northeast Florida and the Jacksonville Public Library since 2016, collected more than 1,800 books throughout the month of September. The books were collected in bins at every Jacksonville Public Library location.
“We are so thankful to the community for stepping up for the third year in a row to help our aspiring readers across our community,” said Madi Bateman, manager of strategic engagement and stewardship. “We are also very grateful for the Jacksonville Public Library partnership year after year. Without them, our book drive success would not be possible.”
Almost 1,500 of these books were new or like-new children’s books that will be distributed to students who participate in United Way’s ReadingPals program. The remaining non-children’s books will be donated to Jacksonville Public Library to replenish their shelves and raise money through their Friends of the Library Book Sale.
United Way ReadingPals students receive up to 10 books every year to help develop their at-home library.
ReadingPals is a statewide early literacy initiative that provides volunteer mentors for voluntary prekindergarten (VPK) students who need extra help, utilizing one-on-one or small group settings. ReadingPals offers volunteers an opportunity to build meaningful relationships with young children in Florida, while helping them improve their social-emotional development and early literacy skills.