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Book Harvest

Listing Last Update: May 23, 2019


2501 University Drive
Durham, NC 27707

Primary Contact

Ginger Young

(919) 428-0511

Educational services

  • Reading and writing
  • To help my child learn
  • Volunteer at a Program

Instruction Type

  • Family literacy program

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Program Overview

Four core programs shape Book Harvest's work:

Book Babies is focused on school readiness. The program takes place at the kitchen tables of Medicaid-eligible families, as we work with the parents of newborns to provide literacy coaching along with lots of books for a full five years, all the way until kindergarten.

Books on Break sends elementary school students home for summer with a backpack full of books to help them combat summer learning loss. We provide parents with a variety of
resources about the importance of reading in the summer; we share info about the Durham County Library's rich offerings; and we send literacy tip texts throughout the summer.

Books to Go engages teachers and others who work directly with middle and high schoolers to provide books to their students, so that the students choose their own books.

Community Book Bank is a vast network of "free book" shelves that we maintain at more than 60 locations where low-income children and families frequently go, including health clinics, social service agencies, after school and tutoring programs, and community centers. Book Harvest volunteers stock these
shelves weekly; and children visit them and select more than 2,000 books every week to take home and keep.

Mission Statement

Book Harvest provides books to children who need them and engages families and communities to promote children's lifelong literacy and academic success.

Book Harvest believes that books are essential to children's healthy development and well-being and that all children deserve to grow up in book-rich homes. To that end, we will remove barriers to book ownership, to fuel a lifelong love of reading among America's children that will enable success in school and in life.

Hours of operation: M - Sa 9am to 5pm

Cost info: N/A

Student and Volunteer Success Stories

Beautiful Sage and her mother Ashley live in a distressed neighborhood in Durham. Poverty in her census tract is 44.9%; despite working two jobs, Ashley has a tough time bringing in enough money to keep food on the table. Day-to-day life is stressful. Sage may have the potential to be the next Maya Angelou or the next Sally Ride – but she was just as likely to be a casualty of a system where the odds are stacked overwhelmingly against her, stuck in a cycle of stalled education and financial vulnerability just like her mom. Her vast potential was in danger of being eclipsed by the ravages of deprivation.

But Sage and Ashley may defy the odds because of Book Harvest's Book Babies program, one simple light-touch intervention in their lives. Every six months Meytal Barak has showed up on their porch bearing a basket brimming with 10 new board books. Ashley invites Meytal in, and for the next hour, Meytal shares the books, modeling how to use them to spark language development and early literacy skills.

Even though Ashley, who never finished high school, may be an insecure reader herself, she has seen from Meytal's warmth and example that it is not necessary to read the words, that just describing the pictures in the books makes them a powerful tool to help her daughter have the best start possible. Over the years, every session ends with hugs and laughter; Meytal has left the books for Sage and her mom to keep for their very own.

This August, Sage strode into her local public school, ready to take kindergarten by storm. With five years of Book Babies behind her, she is a student ready to read and ready to learn! Here's what Ashley just wrote to us about her first couple of months at school:

"Sage so far is doing very good in kindergarten. The teachers all love her and tell me how bright she is. Book Harvest's Book Babies played a major role in getting her ready for school. She has a head start because of what the program has helped us work with her on from infancy.

Book Babies has helped me by being that big sister shoulder to lean on sometimes when I needed a few moments to vent. The home visits help a lot. We shared conversations on our families good or bad, work lives, just everyday life stuff. I think having Book Babies helped keep me focused on my baby learning, not just on trying to make a good living for her.

Program’s Demographics/Metrics

Book Harvest is focused on interrupting the entrenched cycles of inter-generational poverty, and we partner with children and families in central North Carolina to unleash their innate brilliance. Our tools? Books! We provide books to children from birth through high school, and we partner with their families so the aspirations they have for their children may be realized. We measure the success of our work through performance measured (e.g. books provided; children/families served; etc.), school performance data (e.g. pre- post- mClass scores, etc.); and through external evaluations (e.g. a longitudinal Randomized Control Trial evaluation is currently underway for our Book Babies program).

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