Young readers get boost with home libraries on Saturday

East Palo Alto nonprofit 10 Books a Home to host bookshelf painting, distribution event for 40 early readers and families

A few years ago, Paul Thiebaut came up with a simple mantra: Success starts at home. These days, he wants to make that happen.

On Saturday (Aug. 6), his two-year-old literacy nonprofit 10 Books a Home (10BH) will host its first event, A Bookcase in Every Home, at a private residence in Redwood City. Approximately 40 East Palo Alto preschoolers and kindergarteners will attend, along with their families and 22 volunteers.

At the event, children will be able to paint their own bookcases with the help of their families and then take them home to keep.

Thiebaut, whose organization gives 10 free children's books and free, in-home reading tutoring to any interested East Palo Alto families, believes that bookshelves are more than just storage space.

As "a permanent place to keep books," a bookcase both "establishes the importance of books in the household" and "highlights the importance of literacy," Thiebaut said.

According to the Peninsula Partnership Leadership Council, nearly 75 percent of third graders in the Ravenswood School District read at a basic or below-basic reading level. Thiebaut and his 10 Books a Home "book friends" (what the organization calls its reading tutors) hope to change this by leading young readers to love reading and learning early in life.

Since beginning in-home reading tutoring in March, 10 Books a Home has received much positive feedback from parents amazed by their children's progress, Thiebaut said. One parent said her child began begging for books rather than toys, while another family began to read together every night.

"Don't ever tell someone that fairytales are fairytales," he said. "Anything is possible."

Thiebaut also hopes that the event -- which also includes free lunch, baked goods and a puppet show -- will build community and start "enduring relationships" among the children and parents. (All children in attendance already receive private tutoring from 10 Books a Home volunteers.)

Bookshelf-painting supplies were contributed by Kelly-Moore Paints and Books & Bookshelves, an independent furniture store in San Francisco.

More information is available at 10 Books a Home or its Facebook page.

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Like this comment
Posted by The-World-Is-Going-Digital
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2011 at 6:59 am

On the one hand, it's hard not to be appreciative of those involved in this enterprise, but on the other--it is so "retro" that it has to be seen as counter-productive. The idea of focusing on printed books as the source of reading material ignores the fact that virtually all books are on-line now, and that includes children's books, and reading aids--

Children’s Books on iPad:
Web Link

Children’s Books On-line:
Web Link

Children’s Storybooks On-line:
Web Link

Children’s Books On-line:
Web Link

Rather than spending money, and time, on book shelves, it makes more sense to use that time to generate funds to purchase inexpensive computers, e-books, etc. to allow more families to get access to the world of literature.

East Palo Alto would also be a great place to invest in a municipal wireless internet, so that every home would have access to the Net at no expense--if they didn't want to purchase home internet access.

Just this week, the government of South Korea announced that it was investing $2B so that the school system would have digitized books for all of that nation's children. But here in Palo Alto, and East Palo Alto, we are celebrating having 10 paper books per home, and a community "get together" to paint bookshelves.

We, as a nation, seem to have lost our way when we just look backward as a way into the future. Fifty years ago, Korea was a basket-case of a nation. Today, it is a world leader in Robotics, and telecommunications. That's the difference between looking backward, and looking forward.

Like this comment
Posted by little kids need real books
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 6, 2011 at 10:37 am

Small children need real, paper books and the visual impact of a bookshelf filled with reading material can not be duplicated by ebooks. Digital books are wonderful, but a small child can't take their Ipad into the tub, the sandbox, etc. Pat-the-bunny wouldn't be the same without the textures.

Ebooks for school kids - particularly replacing text books - would be a wonderful idea. But 2-7 year olds need books.

Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Newcomer
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 8, 2011 at 10:51 am

How inexpensive could we make Ipads for someone who makes less than 20,000 a year? How can we distribute them to people who can not afford a computer for their home let alone manage to afford internet. Your advertisement for a digital world suits those of us who live in it, but calling books "backward" is the same pretentious and impractical mentality that inappropriately allocates funds to keep middle and upper class children on a path to success and lower class children, namely minorities, on a path to failure and lives as American workhorses. If your ideas or reason were truly funded in the interest of these children you would realize how "backward" your thinking was. Reading is reading. Literature is literature. Whether it is digital or print matters little to those who can not share your sense of reality--represented in digital media--and therefore YOUR statement on preventing low-income homes from reading printed materials in an effort to magically give them access to digital media seems sardonic and can be more accurately defined by the term you used: counterproductive.

Like this comment
Posted by concerned parent
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2011 at 4:34 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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