Monthly Archives: May 2010

I’m So Embarrassed!

I reluctantly decided to show y’all the new blog space while it’s a work in progress. It’s embarrassing, but you’ve had such great suggestions for the Summer Satchel program I figured…. who better to tell me if the new blog will be ok?So….. may I introduce you to pre-facelift Books for Keeps?Summer Satchel is no longer limited to summers, or to books delivered in satchels. The real focus has always been on giving kids books they can KEEP. So, thanks to my creative BFF Lori, Summer Satchel is now called Books For Keeps.I found a kind soul to help me with the design so – hopefully – soon it will be much prettier. But what do you think about the content? I have thick skin so tell me what you think. About the content, that is. The colors, fonts, etc will change. I’m especially interested if you think the “About Books For Keeps” clearly tells the story of what/where/how/why. I’m not a non-profit, or even an organization. If it weren’t for y’all, I’d be a one-woman shop. I can’t tell you how much I’ve appreciated your support. Let’s hear it: what do you think?

A New Name for the Summer Satchel Project

The way things are going, it looks like future book deliveries won’t all be in summer, nor will they all be in a satchel. It seems a new name is in order. Friends sent in great suggestions for a new name; many of them were already in use elsewhere, but I settled on Books For Keeps.Why? Because the very first Summer Satchel delivery grew out of my dismay that a little girl who loved to read didn’t have a single book in her home. And I was in tears upon learning it’s a common, widespread problem… to the point that some kids forget how to read over the summer.Not everybody’s parents can/will take their kids to the library. Even in families with plenty of money, if the parents don’t value reading they may not make books available to their kids.So for now… for this project… the kids get to own the books. They can write their names in them if they want to. Share them or not share them. Mark up favorite pages. Scribble on the cover. Whatever. They can say “This is MY book!” And probably… they’ll READ them.I’m working on a separate blog for Books For Keeps. It’s hideous right now but I’m hoping some kind soul will step up and give me some design advice. Let me spiff it up a bit then I’ll tell you how to find it!

By |May 28th, 2010|Uncategorized|Comments Off on A New Name for the Summer Satchel Project|


I met with the counselor at Alps yesterday, just following up on how the Summer Satchel program went and ideas for next steps. I mentioned wanting my next project to be handing out satchels to the kids living in the homeless shelter, and she said “well, most of them will be attending YWCO camp here this summer.”Next thing ya know, I’m being introduced to the YWCO folks and I’ve volunteered to provide books to 150 girls, ages 5 through 14. I’ve gotten used to ages 5-11. But what in the world do 12, 13, and 14 year olds read? I’m still trying to accept the fact that nobody from the younger crowd wanted Little House on the Prairie or Nancy Drew. It was all Goosebumps and Captain Underpants (and I haven’t replenished my supply yet!)Please send me some recommendations! You can see my inventory on Library Thing; I’m listed as “yenalem”.On a more somber note: from what I understand so far (hopefully it will change!) things are quite crowded at the homeless shelter and there’s just no room for them to store any books. I literally cried on the phone when I heard that. If you grew up surrounded by books, you know exactly what I mean. I thought books were a God-given right. I’ll keep trying; they’re mulling it over.

Today is a Really Good Day.

We got some much-needed rain overnight, a good night’s sleep, some fabulous produce from the Athens Farmers Market this morning……. then I felt a niggling urge to check the thrift stores for books. Which really makes no sense right now, but I went anyway. Scored an elusive “Diary of Wimpy Kid” and 2 just-as-elusive Harry Potter books. $1.50 total. It’s turning into an obsession. I was back home looking at my newly reclaimed dining room table (meaning: not a single book on top of it!) when I saw the mail truck backing up my driveway. When she backs in, I know I’m getting something big.Two Bookmoochers threw in extra books with my order. And I mean lots of extras. I continue to be amazed at – and thankful for – the kindness and generosity of strangers.So yeah, I’m having a really good day. Hope you are too!

By |May 22nd, 2010|Summer Satchels 2010|Comments Off on Today is a Really Good Day.|

I Want My House Back… NOW.

It’s still hard to move around our house because there are books everywhere. One of the Summer Satchel supporters wrote that she hopes I’m resting up now that it’s all over. I wish! Here’s what’s up:- I’m posting books on BookMooch that the school didn’t think they could use for whatever reason; trying to get my “mooch ratio” back in shape just in case they won’t give me a charity account. Also posting the grown-up books that donors included with the childrens books.- I’m sorting out books in bad shape. The unsalvageable ones are being recycled; those with a little life left will go to Salvation Army. And childrens books have a habit of getting sticky, so I’m cleaning some that were too sticky to hand out.- I’m entering my inventory on Library Thing, to make it easier for the schools (and me) to keep up with what I have. It also gives me a gauge on which books are good; award-winners, highly-rated, etc.- I’m writing (and writing… and writing…) thank you notes. And I know that some of you are going to fall through the cracks and not get one due to poor record-keeping on my part; I just hope to be forgiven!- I’m breaking down boxes, recycling bubble wrap & brown paper, sweeping up packing peanuts, washing clothes, and trying to re-establish order at home.- I’m slowly but surely adding a 5-page wish list from Alps to my Bookmooch wish list, so I can mooch throughout the year.- I’m mulling over all sorts of ideas… moving my “summer satchel” posts to a separate blog; starting a Facebook group; putting together a Christmas satchel [...]

By |May 21st, 2010|Summer Satchels 2010|Comments Off on I Want My House Back… NOW.|

The New Wish List

The wish list below is quite different from the school’s official wish list. But the librarian and outreach counselor both said I should focus on anything that gets the kids reading. So here’s a list of what the kids themselves asked for most.I included the numbers I’ll need if I stick with only 1 school for next year. If I make the leap to 2 schools, I’ll update the numbers.If you’re one of the folks who offered to shop the thrift stores for me, or if you just have a large inventory of kids books, this list is short and easy to focus on. I’ll be searching for deals on large lots of each on eBay so don’t bid against me!Series books:Animorphs – 25Captain Underpants – 100+”Coke or Pepsi?” – 25Diary of a Wimpy Kid – 50Goosebumps – 100+Junie B Jones – 100+Magic Treehouse – 50Matt Christopher Sports – 50Pokemon – 50Young Cam Jansen – 50 (regular Cam Jansen is good too, but “young” is for beginners)Also:Kids sports books, especially basketball & footballKids joke booksI noticed the kids automatically gravitated to the series books; some asked for them by name before they even started looking. My heart broke every time a child said “Where’s the Captain Underpants???” and I had to say… “I ran out”.Books to Avoid: (sadly, some of my favorites!)Nancy DrewHardy BoysLittle BearLittle House on the PrairieSpiderwick ChroniclesTime Warp TrioAnything with a drab coverThat’s the short-but-sweet wish list from the kids. Doesn’t spring seem like a great time to clean off your bookshelves? I’m happy to take those books off your hands….

Summer Satchel Action Shots

Yesterday was the big day: Alps rolled out the summer reading program and the students came and shopped for books.It started with organizing the books. Parent volunteers took care of that. There were tables covered in chapter books for the older kids…….. and a separate section for younger kids.Volunteers were stuffing bags with information about the summer reading program.Here’s most of what was in each bag:A list of recommended books, a sheet to tally the number of books read (with prizes listed for each level), a free book offer from Borders, pencils, erasers, a reading journal (where students could record a brief summary about each book), and a brand new book from the Alps Recommended Reading list.We didn’t have time to decorate the bags; next year we’ll order them much earlier and have the kids do the decorating themselves.When each class arrived, Mary would give them a bag and tell them about the summer reading program.Then each student was allowed to choose 2 books to take home (in addition to the new book provided by the school). That’s when the chaos began. The kids were so excited about the books, they swarmed the tables like we were giving away gold. Or candy. It was fun to watch.Kids shopped for books and compared their finds. It was fun to hear them recommending books to each other. The kindergarteners left a path of destruction behind, but it was fun to watch. By the end of the day, it was clear what the students liked and didn’t like.The Goosebumps (85) and Junie B. Jones(94) inventory was completely wiped out and the kids were asking for more. Sports books [...]

By |May 19th, 2010|Summer Satchels 2010|Comments Off on Summer Satchel Action Shots|

Today is the day!

I’m off to hand out books to the kids at Alps Road Elementary. It’s an all-day affair, and I’m so excited to see the kids reactions. I think I’ll learn about which books they like best.I’m still collecting books though. Adopting two schools next year will be a huge ordeal so I’m getting started NOW.Thanks everybody for your help, and another shout out the BookMoochers out there who showered me with free books, 2 for 1 deals, and gift points. To quote my niece: YTB! Melaney(PS: that’s teen-speak for You’re the Best)

By |May 18th, 2010|Summer Satchels 2010|Comments Off on Today is the day!|

A quick update….

I’ve delivered 1500 books and 200 workbooks (thanks Lori!) to Alps Road Elementary. Tomorrow is the big day!Thanks everybody for feedback on whether or not to hoard my surplus of books. I talked to the Outreach Coordinator at Alps today, and we’ve come up with a tentative plan that will spread the book wealth to other students over the summer and leave plenty for a head start on next year’s program. More on that later. Today when I delivered 2 carloads of books, there were parent volunteers in the library sorting books. I’ve never seen such a sight. Hopefully I’ll get there tomorrow before the kids start selecting books so I can take a “before” picture. And I must admit, I’m looking forward to having my regular life back. I’ve been ordering, sorting, stacking, and boxing books for about 12 hours a day for the last 10 days. It’s been fun, but the laundry isn’t going to wash itself!Stay tuned….

By |May 17th, 2010|Summer Satchels 2010|Comments Off on A quick update….|


No, that’s not a typo. One thousand, seven hundred & eighty-seven books. I still can’t believe it, even as I’m typing. AND – as best I can tell, there’s a potential 150-200 more books en route.I’m trying to decide what to do. What do you think?I could save the books for next year, and have a huge head-start on my goal of adopting two schools. That would make things really easy on me.I could scramble to find another school and get organized. But there are only a few days left before school is out; this would be a tremendous amount of work and I’m already committed to helping at Alps. I’m not sure I can pull this one off.I could give each child at Alps 2 extra books for the summer, but then I’d have to start from zero next year. That will make it hard to adopt an additional school.It’s a tough call but I’m leaning towards option 1. It makes everything easier for me and frankly, I’m exhausted. I’ll be free to help Alps Elementary this coming week, and I’ll start ahead of the game on doubling the number of children who take home “Summer Satchels” next year.Those of you who donated books: what do you think? I want to make the most of your donations and I’m curious what you’d like me to do.