Each year, SMART Reading gives away over 175,000 books for students to keep and read with their families. In shared reading programs around the state, participating PreK through third-grade students select two books each month to keep, helping them build their personal libraries and foster a love of reading.

In addition, the Children’s Book Bank in Portland accepts new and gently used books from the community, then organizes volunteers to sort, clean, and distribute books. The Book Bank partners with schools, clinics, Head Start programs, and other organizations that support literacy development for underserved children and families from birth through eighth grade.

Providing books is a key component of our program model because research shows that the presence of books in environments outside of school is a critical factor in learning how to read. In fact, children with access to 25 books will, on average, complete two more years of school than children without access to books.

Our partner schools have high populations of children from low-income households, and studies show that these children are less likely to have books in their homes. Providing them with books of their own is our way of addressing the need for increased access to books.

SMART Reading uses a child-guided approach to literacy, in which children have the opportunity to select the books they want to read with their adult volunteer, as well as those they take home to share with their families. Read on to learn more about the types of books we provide, our process for book selection, and how you can help us put new books in the hands of kids!