Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

SCBWI Books for Readers Continues Giving Books and Building Dreams

 by Patty J. Murphy




Once again, SCBWI members joined forces as part of our 3rd Annual SCBWI Books For Readers book drive and literacy event. Members collect and donated new books created by our PAL members to our two 2019 recipients: Madison Reading Project in Madison, WI, and REACH in Norfolk, VA.


“These organizations were chosen from hundreds of nominated organizations by our members because of the good work they are doing at a grassroots level. It’s time that worthy organizations supported by dedicated volunteers, receive the recognition and support they deserve,” said Lin Oliver. “It is these people, lending their helping hands and hearts, that bring hope to our children and our country.”


Below is a recap of the two donations and events held this year. To learn more about SCBWI Books for Readers, and to nominate your favorite literacy organization for 2020, visit


In chilly, rainy October, the first donation and book distribution celebration headed to Madison, WI, the home of Madison Reading Projecta literacy organization serving readers in need throughout the greater Madison area. Nothing could keep the young readers and their families away from their evening. 


SCBWI’s donation of 1,000 books to Madison Reading Project and its Big Red Reading Bus, allowed the organization to reach a milestone– the 100,000th book donated to readers–and to be recognized for the hard work they have done, as well as the work yet to come. 


“It is a tribute to what we are doing and to the kids we serve. We are wowed that the authors and illustrators who created these books are supporting what we are doing, and helping get their books into these kids’ hands,” said Executive Director Rowan Childs. “It’s also an intrinsic pat on the back–a belief in what we are doing to increase literacy rates, and encouragement for all of us to do more!” 


Following the donation and presentation, the evening’s events continued with local SCBWI Wisconsin authors and illustrators manning the five celebration stations. This included a story time station, illustration demonstration station, book-plate making station, and refreshment station. The high point was the moment when all the children in attendance chose a book of their own to take home.  


“We were able to feed children’s minds with books, their bodies with food, and their spirits with love,” said Silvia Acevedo, SCBWI Wisconsin Co-Regional Advisor. 


“It was a magical event, and what the kidlit community is all about,” added Rochelle Groskreutz, Co-Regional Advisor. “We’re proud to be a part of it!” 



On November 13, the second donation and book distribution celebration headed to Norfolk, VA, the home of REACH–a non-profit organization that works to reverse illiteracy and to improve education for at-risk children in Virginia’s coastal communities. 


Even before the doors opened, a crowd formed outside the John Tyler Elementary School in Portsmouth, VA, the site for the SCBWI BFR/REACH event. The specially invited kids and their families had a feeling that something incredible was about to happen–a donation of 1,000 children’s books, and a literacy celebration just for them. 


Once the kids and families filled the school gymnasium, local SCBWI author and illustrator volunteers joined Lin Oliver and Meg Medina, SCBWI board of advisors’ member and Newbery Medal-winning author, and REACH’s executive director Jennifer Goff for a brief introduction and the ceremonial donation of the books.


“These books are unlike any others that our children have received before,” said Dr. Goff, executive director of REACH, “because they’re donated by the very people who created them. They’ll allow our children to see worlds outside their communities, to offer them experiences they’ve never had, and to see what can be, and what they can achieve. Like that famous quotation, ‘A reader lives a thousand lives–a non-reader only one!’ These books will give our kids a thousand lives–and then some!”


Soon after, local SCBWI authors and illustrators took their places to help with interactive story times, art demonstrations, story-themed crafts, photo memory sharing, refreshments, and the highly anticipated choosing of books from a variety of kinds and genres of books.  


“I got goosebumps thinking of all of the kids who would soon be choosing, keeping, and cherishing these books thanks to our generous PAL members!” said Erin Teagan, Co-Regional Advisor, Mid-Atlantic Region. “Wow! That’s exactly how I felt when I looked at the giveaway tables displaying only a fraction of the over 1,000 books,” said Ellen R. Braaf, Co-Regional Advisor, Mid-Atlantic Region. “And, it’s how I felt when I saw the delight on the children’s faces as they selected books to call their own! I say, ‘WOW, SCBWI!’”