It seems a little early to be talking about Christmas, but it’s not too early to start planning your own Jingle Bell Book Shop! Maybe you’re saving supplies for boxes for Operation Christmas Child too.
The Jingle Bell Book Shop was started to encourage reading, get more books into children’s homes, and to help kids to think about others. This post will explain the background of the program and how you can start one at your local school. Yes, YOU!
One thing we take for granted is the ability to purchase and have access to many books. At the school I work at, the classrooms are stocked with books, but the kids do no have books at home. Statistics show that the only way to be a good reader is to read more books. One study was also done that asked the question, do kids become more proficient readers if they visit the library once a week regularly or have books in the home. Answer: books in the home.
Goal: Get more (free) books into the hands of students and families that they can keep. No need to return, just read and enjoy!
Background story: In 2012, my friend Kerry told me that she had a box of almost brand new books and wanted to know if I could use them. Could I? Of course! For Kerry’s 39th birthday, she committed to doing 39 acts of kindness. One of these acts was collecting books. I work at a Title I school where many of our children have no books in their home. Due to the connection I already had with the school, I was able to use volunteer tutors to work with a select set of students to select and wrap the books. It was a success! Over 100 books received new homes and the kids were thrilled!
Present Day: This year, I challenged my son’s Cub Scout Pack to donate 5 books each. Over 175 books were donated! Kerry also put it on her Facebook page (to celebrate her 40th) and friends responded. I was even contacted by a friend in Atlanta, who wants to start doing this herself. So, I thought I’d share it here on Busy Kids Happy Mom, just in case there are more of you looking for a great way to give back!
How to Set up a Jingle Bell Book Shop
Planning: Start soliciting and collecting books in November. Plan for the last week of school before winter break to have your shop. Contact a local school’s guidance counselor (contact information is usually on the school’s website). You may be surprised that a school close to you could benefit from this program!
What you need from the school:
- A list of ages/grade levels of children who would benefit from more books. You just need a number of students, you do not need names.
- A place to set up (office, back copy room, conference room, science closet)
- A day and time to host your shop.
Supplies: books, wrapping paper, tape, scissors, bows, tags
Additional help: Up to you – choosing the books is easy, wrapping them makes me tired and sweaty! 🙂
Where to get books: Kerry donated a bunch of books the past year. In fact, for her 40th birthday, she had people donate books as one of her 40 Random Acts of Kindness! Wow! I also contact our local Cub Scout Pack, churches, other schools, moms groups, etc. Some books were in better shape than others. I just donated the ones that didn’t look good, gave ok condition to elementary classrooms, and the really good ones (check for writing or tears) went to the shop.
How many books does each child get? It depends on how many you have and how many have and how many kids you’re serving. I hope to give each child will 5. I encourage them to look for members of their family first, then choose something for themselves.
Shopping: I set up the books on a table with baskets, etc. and a Christmas table cloth. Volunteers usually shop with the children and help them wrap their gifts. It’s up to you on how you want to run that part and how many people you have to help you. I try to refresh the books as the kids come through and I don’t put out everything at once.
Personal note: I love this “shop” because it makes sense to kids. Sometimes it’s hard for kids to grasp doing things for people in other countries or collecting food for people in need. Giving away books that they loved and really thinking about what kids their age might like to read, makes this even more personal. My own children sorted books all over our family room floor. They got excited about each bag and box that was delivered to my house. They helped load them in the car and wanted to hear which books were chosen.
Kids Giving to Kids
When my own son asked me why we donate books, I shared that books are expensive. Some parents have to use their money for their basic needs (food, clothing, and shelter) and books don’t make it on the priority list. My son’s solution: Kids without books should be able to checkout unlimited books from the library. Love it! This is great (simple) program for kids to think about others… Kids Giving to Kids!
Feel free to contact me with questions at kristenelisedesigns (at) gmail (dot) com.
It would be awesome to see more “shops” popping up all over the world!
Pop over to see how we pack our Operation Christmas Child boxes inexpensively too, click here.