Books for Keeps Fulfills Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Provide Books to Athens Children

Athens, Ga. – April 27, 2012 – Over the next two weeks, Athens non-profit Books for Keeps will distribute nearly 25,000 books to Athens children, just in time for summer vacation.  This fulfills the 2012 portion of the organization’s commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative to provide 12 books per child to every kindergarten – 5th grade student attending any Clarke County School District elementary school where 90% or more of students qualify for free/reduced-fee lunches.

“The library is simply not an option for every child, for a number of reasons outside a child’s control,” said Books for Keeps founder Melaney Smith. “Our program is based on a three-year University of Florida study that found giving children 12 books each at the beginning of summer was statistically as impactful as summer school on reading achievement.  We give children high-interest books, for keeps, to ensure they have access to books all summer long, regardless of proximity to a library, family income, or parental ability/involvement.”

Every student at 5 local schools will receive books: Gaines School Elementary, Howard B. Stroud Elementary, Alps Road Elementary, Judia Jackson Harris Elementary, and Fowler Drive Elementary.

Members of the media are invited to attend the May 10th book distribution at Howard B. Stroud elementary school from 12-2pm.  Members of the Georgia Bulldogs football team will talk to children about the importance of reading, and volunteers from local gourmet food products company Fire and Flavor will assist children in selecting their books.

“Books for Keeps is doing important work to level the playing field for children, where access to books in concerned,” said Fire and Flavor president Davis Knox, who provides donated warehouse space to Books for Keeps. “We help Books for Keeps with their warehouse and operational needs, but we’re especially looking forward to helping the children choose their books.”

Books for Keeps gives books to students in pre-K through 12th grade to prevent an academic achievement loss known as summer slide. “Research has shown that kids who don’t read during the summer often return to school lagging 2-3 months behind their classmates,” said UGA reading researcher and Books for Keeps board member Dr. Jennifer Graff. “The gap compounds every year, often affecting children from low-income families at an alarmingly disproportionate rate. By giving books directly to kids, we enable them to read all summer and hopefully mitigate summer slide.”

The Clarke County School District recognized Books for Keeps with a 2011 Impact Award. “Books for Keeps has made a difference in the lives of many Clarke County students,” said Superintendent Philip D. Lanoue. “Melaney has shown that one person can directly impact a child’s future. To help instill a love of reading is a lifelong gift and we are grateful for the support of this organization.”

“We bring our books to the schools to make sure no child falls through the cracks,” said Smith. “The students come to the school media center, one class at a time, and our volunteers help each child choose 12 books to keep. Their reactions are priceless and hard to describe – there’s a joy in the room that’s contagious. It keeps us going the other 11 ½ months of the year. ”

Learn more at For additional information or interviews, contact Melaney Smith at (404) 808-8625 or

About Books for Keeps:  Books for Keeps started as one woman’s effort to help a child who loved to read but had no books at home. It grew into a grassroots movement to end summer slide in Athens by ensuring children have access to books during summer. Books for Keeps distributes books to Clarke County School District students ranging from pre-K through 12th grade.  The elementary school program is based on a University of Florida study that found giving economically-disadvantaged elementary school children 12 high-interest books each at the beginning of summer had an impact on reading achievement statistically similar to attending summer school.

About Fire and Flavor: Based in Athens, Ga., Fire & Flavor is a leading marketer and producer of innovative products and concepts for preparing fresh, healthy food. Founded in 2003 by husband-and-wife team Davis and Gena Knox, Fire & Flavor offers unique and easy-to-use products to make simple, gourmet meals at home. Products are currently sold throughout the United States. Fire & Flavor products are certified sustainable, all natural, Kosher, gluten-free and low in sodium. Visit the company online at