April 16, 2015

Bookapallooza coming this way

Author: Liza Frenette
Source: NYSUT Communications
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If you take 500,000 books, at an average of an inch per book, that equals 2.63 miles of books laid end to end. That is a street paved with golden opportunity for students, because that is how many free hardcover and softcover books are being made available to them next month.

NYSUT; its national affiliate, the American Federation of Teachers; and First Book are hosting a First Book National Book Bank distribution at an Albany area warehouse.  Any educator in a Title One district, school or program can receive some of the 500,000 free books being distributed the week of May 11-14. Titles include fiction, nonfiction, historical fiction, series, poetry, history, chapter books and young adult books. They have been donated by major publishing houses in the U.S.

Educators who are already registered with First Book should check their e-mails next week, on April 21, for a notice that will provide a link to an online application for the Book Bank. Those who are not registered can do so by following the following steps:

  1. Register for First Book at www.firstbook.org/AFT.  Already registered? Go to the next step.
  2. Watch your email.  Every First Book registrant will receive e-mail with a link to the online application for the book bank on Tuesday April 21, after 2 pm.
  3. Click the link in the Book Bank e-mail and complete the online application. You MUST complete the Book Bank form to receive books.
  4. Do not delay. Applications are approved on a first-come, first-served basis and are typically open for only 48 hours.
  5. On the Book bank Application, check the shipping option if you would like the books sent to you for a small fee.  Or, if you are within driving distance of the Albany area, you could also choose the "pick-up option." Pick up times are only available before 4 p.m.

The applications will allow educators to choose from among the available titles and then select books for their students.  For some students, it will be their first time owning a book of their own. For others, it will allow them to own a popular book their families cannot afford to buy; one they can read over and over again, enhancing their reading skills.

"If you have any question whether or not your school, building or program is eligible, each NYSUT regional office has a list of eligible schools," said Paul Webster, NYSUT community liaison. The statewide union has regional offices located throughout New York and has been working with First Book for the past two years to provide thousands of books to schools and students in need. Educators can also contact their local union presidents.

"This is a powerful example of the union taking action on social justice issues," said Paul Pecorale, NYSUT vice president. "Many schools do not have resources to keep up with book demands, due to budget cuts. Many families cannot afford to buy books, and some families have no transportation to get to the local library."

"NYSUT is thrilled to work with AFT and First Book to bring so many high-quality, free books to educators who serve students and families in need in communities across New York and across the nation," added Leslie Getzinger, AFT communications specialist. AFT has been partnered with First Book for four years.

First Book is a nonprofit organization that provides new books to children in need. For more information, go to www.firstbook.org.

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