A child holds a green tote bag full of 14 books from the Book Bank. Her mother stands behind her with her arms around her.

The Children’s Book Bank at SMART Reading is located in Northeast Portland. We accept new and gently used book donations from the community, then organize volunteers to sort, clean, and distribute books. In addition, we purchase supplemental books with diverse representation to better meet the needs of the children and families we serve through our Story Like Mine program. 

Cleaned and new books are distributed either through our Building Home Libraries program for PreK kids or free school-wide book fairs for older students. To distribute books, we join with literacy partners like schools, clinics, Head Start programs, and other organizations that support literacy development for underserved children and families. 

Learn more below about Building Home Libraries and our School-Age program below: 

Building Home Libraries

Through our flagship Building Home Libraries program, we provide children from birth through kindergarten with home libraries containing a collection of 14 age-appropriate books.

We believe that giving children a bundle of books—not just one or two—will increase the likelihood that they will find a book that will spark a love of reading and learning. The Children’s Book Bank carefully sorts books to create bundles with a range of age- and skill-appropriate reading levels for each child and with a variety of topics, including books in Spanish for children from Spanish-speaking families and multicultural books for all children, but particularly for those from communities of color.

We serve every Head Start child in Multnomah County in addition to local preschool programs that help children develop pre-reading skills such as recognizing the look and sounds of letters; reading from top to bottom and left to right; and understanding how letters make words, words make sentences, and sentences make stories.  

Families who received books through our Building Home Libraries program report increasing time spent reading together each week, using reading time to grow closer to their child, and engaging in talk and questions with their child while reading together.

School-Age Program

This program provides elementary and K-8 underserved schools with thousands of age-appropriate books with which to host free school-wide books fairs each June. These books help promote continued learning over the summer months in order to combat the “summer slide,” a time when children often lose gains made over the school year. With a stack of self-selected books with which to continue reading over the summer, skills gained during the school year can be maintained and enhanced.

Students who receive books through our School-Age Program report feeling more confident in themselves as readers when they return to school in the fall.

For an overview of our impact during the 2021-22 school year, click here.