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Nonprofit organization donates nearly 8,000 books to children

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IDAHO FALLS — Nearly 8,000 children’s books were recently distributed to kids in various eastern Idaho school districts, thanks to a book donation program by a nonprofit organization.

The United Way of Idaho Falls and Bonneville County started the program last year in spring through a grant. The program is called, “Ready. Set. READ!” and came as a response to learning loss from the COVID-19 pandemic. The program encourages literacy and promotes early childhood education in eastern Idaho.

Chris Wiersema, president and CEO of the United Way in east Idaho, told that 7,850 books were distributed to children in different counties by giving the books to schools.

“Books can take you places. It creates curiosity for kids and we really wanted to offer all kinds of genres,” Wiersema said. “These aren’t just school books, these are pleasure books and also nonfiction and science fiction and so whatever the kid is interested in, we wanted to make sure we had a book for them.”

Providing access to books for low-income children is a part of the program. According to United Way’s website, “In Idaho, low-income homes average only one book for every 300 children. By comparison, in middle and high-income homes, each child has an average of 50 books.”

“Those children that are living in poverty, typically maybe have one book, as their personal book and we would love for that library to grow 10 to 15 books for them to enjoy,” she said.

Wiersema said the program is sticking around for the second time this year.

“Our goal is to distribute another 15,000 books this year,” she said.

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Ready. Set. READ! book distribution. | Courtesy: United Way of Idaho Falls & Bonneville County

United Way in Idaho Falls serves Bonneville, Clark, Fremont, Jefferson, Lemhi, Madison and Teton Counties. Click here for more information.