Books Between Kids aims to increase opportunities for under-privileged children

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by Jeremy Desel / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on November 12, 2013 at 7:41 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 12 at 8:00 PM

HOUSTON—What do you do with the books that you are finished with? Sit them on a shelf? Two Houston mothers are asking “why”—especially when it comes to children’s books.

Jungle Book, Around the World in 80 Days, Hop on Pop are familiar titles in many homes—or at least they should be.

“There is never a time that we won’t need books,” said Amy Barnes, the co-founder of Books Between Kids.

Just over a year ago, Sandra Alhorn and Barnes were holding separate book drives at their own children’s elementary schools when they thought they could be more effective by joining forces.

That is an understatement. Books Between Kids has only been around a year and it has already impacted thousands of underprivileged children in 28 area schools,

“I want them to think that they are readers, and the only way that they are going to think that is if they have books in their house to read,” Barnes said.

In too many Houston homes the daily struggle is making sure there is food on the table, everything else is extra.

“All that we have to do is get the books that we are done reading and part with them, and get them out doing what books do,” Barnes said.

Their simple idea is getting national attention.

“It just shows that ordinary people can do extraordinary things and it is happening every day,” said Neil Bush, who represents his father George H.W. Bush’s Foundation, the Points of Light.

The president his wife Barbara founded Points of Light to honor service.

Books Between Kids is the 5,086th recipient of the daily Points of Light award. Not just an honor, but a financial grant to help fund the warehouse used to store and sort the books donated.

“I think that this is an extraordinary program, and not many stack up to this level,” Bush added.

They do know how to stack.

There have been a 100,000 books donated in the first year. That is enough to give more than 15,000 kids the start of a library of their own.

That is only the beginning because the goal for this year is 150,000.

“This thing has a mind of its own, it is just growing on its own and we are just hanging on for dear life. Trying to coordinate and make things work as quickly as possible,” said Ahlhorn, the group’s co-founder.

Judging from the ‘thank you’ letters from the children papering the walls, the impact is immediate.

In just three days JP Morgan Chase put together a book drive and its employees brought in another 1,000 books.

They will take all they can get.      

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