'Book Bank' Program Keeps Kids Coming Back

Emerald Glen's Lourdes Cruz checks out books for her three girls

Emerald Glen's Lourdes Cruz checks out books for her three girls

Opens Books, Opening New Worlds

It is hard to know who was more excited, Lourdes Cruz or her daughters listening on the phone to her report on books available through Homeport’s award-winning Bright Ideas Book Bank program. 

“It helps them a lot. They are good readers. They like to read,” said Cruz, an Emerald Glen resident.

A young reader at Emerald Glen

A young reader at Emerald Glen

An estimated 400 children, ages 0-18, will be receiving from Homeport up to two new books and some used books this Holiday Season, including Cruz’s 8, 14 and 15-year old daughters. In the first three years of the Book Bank program, 1634 children received 4,900 books.

The books are distributed primarily through fun-filled book fair programs in community centers of Homeport apartment communities.

A younger age favorite

A younger age favorite

“There are some kids who come in with their book lists in hand, their top choices circled for us to help them find,” said Morgen Wade, Homeport’s Manager of Volunteer Engagement and coordinator of the Book Bank program. “Others just remember books they would have liked at previous book fairs, ‘Do you still have The Watsons Go to Birmingham?’ We have other kids who get just as excited about the activities at the event. ‘Oh, the Book Bank is back!’ It is an annual celebration they look forward to.”

Emerald Glen third-grader Ibrahim Ibrahim said it was the third year he had attended the Book Fair and he was eager to grab the ever popular “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” to give himself something to read at school.

Ibrahim’s cousin, Mohamed Sheikh, said he was happy to not only read the books but share them with friends.

His younger sister, Zaynab Sheikh, a second grader, said the excitement was bigger than the “Carnival at Candelight” book she had latched on to. “I want to learn more words,” she said.

The books are donated from Homeport’s wish list or purchased by Homeport with funds raised in the community from organizations supporting the initiative. Target, engineering firm EMH&T, Highlights for Children, Junior Library Guild, Half Price Books, United Way of Central Ohio, and Homeport staff and Board Members are among the program supporters.

The book list selections for 2016 came from resident input as well as suggested recommendations from Columbus Metropolitan Library, the American Library Association and New York Times Book Review.

Target volunteers add to Book Fair festivities

Target volunteers add to Book Fair festivities

“I want to create voracious readers out of all the kids. The Book Bank with the hype and excitement of the Book Fairs in each community is that window of opportunity where a reluctant reader might pick up a book that could open up a whole new world. That is why it is so important to have a high quality selection of books at these events,” said Wade. 

This year’s student favorites include: “The Pout Pout Fish,” a board book for 0-3 year olds; “The Magician’s Elephant,” a dream-like fable for elementary age children; “The Crossover,” a basketball and hip hop poetry themed book for 12 to 14-year-olds, and “The Sun Is Also A Star,” a fictional love story geared to young adults.

Book Bank began in 2013 as part of Homeport’s commitment to literacy and fighting learning loss during school breaks (Christmas-New Year’s; Summertime). The Ohio Educational Library Media Association has recognized Homeport for the initiative as has The American Association of School Librarians.