It’s hard to believe this post is coming less than one month after book distributions began.

It seems like we blinked and they were over – that magical period of two-and-a-half weeks in which we gave away 45,000 books to 3,700 students at 10 elementary schools.

It was, by turns, exhilarating and exhausting, joyful and humbling. It was a reminder of how crazy we are for doing what we do in a matter of just a few weeks — and it was a reminder that it is one of the most worthwhile and rewarding endeavors of which many of our volunteers, board members, and (tiny) staff have ever been a part.

We nearly doubled our program reach this year – to 3,700 students from 2,000 the year prior. We added five new schools: Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary, Winterville Elementary and Downtown Academy in Athens; Paul E. Dunbar Elementary in Atlanta; and M.E. Freeman Elementary in Warrenton.

These additional schools were a huge stretch for us — in terms of fundraising, in terms of logistics (just getting the books to the out-of-town schools was a major challenge), and in terms of staffing. But it was really remarkable to serve new schools for the first time in three years.

In many of our existing schools, the students are totally familiar with Books for Keeps. It’s a good thing. They start asking in August when Books for Keeps is coming back (and we love hearing that from media specialists). But, it also means that there’s no sense of delighted surprise when we tell them they will take home 12 books — by this point, many of the older students can recite exactly how a distribution works. And children can be spectacularly blunt: “We still only [...]