Sharing Shelf Fosters a Love of Reading
Sharing Shelf Fosters a Love of Reading

Brian once had dozens of books and would wake up each day wanting his mom to read with him. But when he was just four years old, his family lost many of their possessions when they were evicted from their home.

“We were really sad about it. He would ask me to read and I had to tell him we didn’t have any books,” said mom, Sarah. “We went to the library, but it was hard to find the books he knew and loved, and he couldn’t keep them.”

Brian attends a preschool in where The Family Conservancy (TFC) staff engage parents and teachers with literacy and other supports to provide a positive transition for kids like Brian into kindergarten.

Research shows the number of books in the home directly predicts reading achievement — children who grew up with books in their homes reached a higher level of education than those who did not (

To address the need for books at home, TFC provides five family literacy kits each school year, and also piloted a Sharing Shelf allowing families to keep, share or trade children’s books.

Thanks to donated books from TFC’s Brew for Books fundraiser and other books drives throughout the city, TFC implemented Sharing Shelves at area preschools to increase family engagement and literacy.

“Through the Sharing Shelf, Brian has at least 20 books now,” Sarah said. Since Brian can keep these books, he likes to write his name in his books. “He can spell “B-r-i-a” fine, but he usually writes the “n” backward.”

Through reading, Brian learns new words and emotions. He is growing his vocabulary, using more descriptive words. Sarah says “before he would just say mad, now he can say angry.”

Because Brian has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder reading helps Brian concentrate and calms him. Sarah said, “Reading helps us bond, it’s a peaceful time for us together; he’ll cuddle up with me when we read.”

Reading is also a time to bond with his father. Brian’s father is illiterate, and Brian will sit and read to his dad, trying to instill in him his love of reading.

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