Books For Bedtime

"Getting books into the hands of children who need them"

Photo of Meagan Warren
9 6

Written by

Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

June 6th, 2003

Where are you located:

My Location: Ohio: Columbus (43209)
Locations of Impact: Ohio: Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Whitehall, Springfield, Grove City, Akron, and many more!

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Website: http://www.booksforbedtimenonprofit.org
Facebook: @booksforbedtimenonprofit
Twitter: @books4bedtime

Date Started

7/15/2014

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

I decided to start Books For Bedime because I have always had a passion for reading and am very privileged to have the resources and access to books that I have. My mom has taught in very urban schools since I was just a small child. When I went to work with her on days I didn't have school, I was able to see just how different my life was from those of her students. Where I had hundreds of books in my room at home, some of her kids didn't have even one book in their whole house. This caused me to realize just how poorly dispersed our educational resources were and just how unfair it was. It was this realization that led me to get the idea in my head that I needed to do something to help all the kids (and adults) who didn't have books easily accessible to them. It was this realization that led me to found Books For Bedtime.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Through my creation of Books For Bedtime, I am helping to solve the problem of books deserts. Book deserts are areas around the United States in which a majority of the households do not have even one book in their home. They are also areas where the residents do not have access to stores that sell children's books.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

I personally go into high-need schools, homeless shelters, food pantries, new immigrant organizations and give away books to children. When I go into a school, I first give a speech about the importance of reading, and also give the students information on why I founded Books For Bedtime. Then, each child is able to choose a book to take home. Even though one book doesn't seem like it would make that large of a difference, I have currently given away 70,000 books! I have also written some grants, and I am beginning to build and distribute Little Free Libraries, so that children can always have access to books!

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

I was 11 years old when I founded Books For Bedtime, and I enjoy inspiring other youth to make a difference in the world. Last fall, I was asked to speak to some fifth grade classes in my district. A majority of students have plenty of books in their homes, but they also have the opportunity and ability to make the world a better place. I talked about my mission, and about the process of starting a charity. Two months ago, I received an email from one of the fifth graders who had heard my presentation. She had to complete a service project for school, and decided to discuss book deserts and Books For Bedtime! She spread the word, and collected over 300 books for me!

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Books For Bedtime is unique from other organizations that distribute books in several meaningful ways. First, I make it my personal mission to speak to every student at every school that I visit. When students see me, they are usually surprised that I am so petite, and not an adult! Second, I also do a full question and answer session. Students love asking me some great questions. My favorite question has to be, "What is the least favorite book you have ever read?" I also help students browse the books, and try to give them a recommendation based on what genres they like.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

So far, I have given away over 70,000 books! In the beginning, I remember being excited when I gave away 1,000 books! I often receive thank you notes from students. One of my most remembered and favorite letters was from a little girl who said that she and her brother didn't have any books at home, and so they hadn't been able to complete their nightly reading log. She proudly stated that because of me, and Books For Bedtime, they now could complete their reading logs! That one book to that one child, made a difference in her life.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

I have started building Little Free Libraries, so that I can create a rotating library in book deserts. I can't give away books at every school and to every child in every book desert, but I can certainly build and install Little Free Libraries to increase access to books! I also would love to be able to create a literacy kit for other youth who would like to start something like Books For Bedtime. If I could give the basic ideas to youth who want to make a difference, there could be other youth in other communities doing what I do, and we could make an even bigger difference!

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

At this point, I would need designers to help me create the literacy kits. I would also need funding to be able to produce these kits, as well as team members to help spread the word. I would love to be able to have consistent help with building and installing the Little Free Libraries. The biggest challenge that I am finding, as I continue to grow Books For Bedtime, is having enough hands to help!

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Sales
  • Donations less than $100
  • Donations between $100-$1k
  • Donations between $1k-$5k

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

A lot of adults find Books For Bedtime inspiring, and I often speak to groups of youth and adults. I have worked with many scouting groups over the past four years. I have been approached by teachers who want me to tell my story to their students, and have spoken to thousands of students. Books For Bedtime has grown so much in large part due to my social media, especially Facebook. I have over 5,500 followers on Facebook, and I am often contacted by organizations, schools, individuals, book clubs, and other organizations who want to share the message. Giving away 70,000 books is powerful, but sharing news of book deserts and spreading awareness is equally important.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Disability community
  • Religious minority (non-Christian)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Ashoka page or contact
  • Other

9 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Anna Steenbakkers
Team

It's so great that you want to share the opportunity you have with other kids (and adults!). Maybe you can partner with schools and have the students volunteer to help install the Little Free Libraries. That way they feel included in the initiative and will also be more likely to value the opportunity. Keep up the good work!!

Photo of Meagan Warren
Team

Thank you so much for the ideas! I have been working with some local boy/girl scout groups for the building of our Little Free Libraries! I also have worked with schools as a means of inspiring other students to start their own initiatives!

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