Literacy is one of the most powerful indicators of a child’s future success, yet less than half of California third grade students read at grade level and one third of young children aren’t read to every day. Having direct access to books can help reverse these trends, developing confident readers prepared for success in school. RAFT, Resource Area For Teaching, and theSan Jose Mercury News are partnering again to put thousands of books in the hands of children who may not have had a book of their own before.

“We have a huge challenge with literacy in California, and the Bay Area isn’t excluded,” said Grainger Marburg, CEO of RAFT. “Promoting childhood literacy is one of the most powerful things we can do to help break the cycle of poverty.”

The Gift of Reading drive began on November 18 and runs through December 15, with a goal of collecting 45,000 new or like-new children’s books. Community members can get involved by donating books at 18 Bay Area bookstores, libraries, and offices. The full list of donation sites and information on making a financial contribution are available at For the first time, donors can also participate virtually through an online book drive powered by Los Altos-based Roonga.

With collections already underway, RAFT will begin distributing books in early December to educators and organizations serving children. RAFT encourages supporters to donate early so students can receive their gift of books before the start of vacation, an ideal time for children and families to read. One of last year’s participants shared that her students are always thrilled to receive a book and elated to know it is theirs to keep.

“Being able to provide every student with a book of their own is an exciting event,” she said. “Even a reluctant reader is motivated to read a book of their own, but buying books for each of my students on my own would be too expensive. Being able to go to RAFT to get these books for my students is as thrilling for me as it is for them because I’m able to introduce my students to new genres and broaden their reading experience. I never get tired of seeing smiling students closely hugging their books.”

Sharon Levin from Redwood City is a children’s literature reviewer with an obvious passion for the drive. This year she collected more than 50 boxes full of books to contribute.

“I think it’s important to make sure that children receive the gift of reading because books are a way to explore, escape, to empathize, and just to enjoy,” said Levin. “It breaks my heart to think of children or households without books. To me, reading comes right after shelter, food, and clothing.”

A recent study showed that reading proficiency is a strong and accurate predictor of high school graduation. Students who cannot read at grade level by third grade are four times less likely to graduate high school by age 19 than their reading proficient classmates. By donating books, you are not only providing a warm holiday memory for a child, you are also increasing the likelihood of their success in school and life.

For information on receiving books for your students or program, contact raft(at)raft(dot)net.

Gift of Reading Donation Locations:

Recycle Bookstore
275 East Campbell Avenue

Linden Tree Children’s Books
265 State Street

Los Altos Library
13 South San Antonio Road

Los Gatos Public Library
100 Villa Avenue

Kepler’s Books
1010 El Camino Real

Milpitas Library
160 North Main Street

Books, Inc.
301 Castro Street

80 East Second Street

Books, Inc.
85 El Camino Real

101 Twin Dolphin Drive

1355 Ridder Park Drive

Recycle Bookstore
1066 The Alameda

Hicklebee’s Bookstore
1378 Lincoln Avenue

Santa Clara County Office of Education
1290 Ridder Park Drive

Christa McAuliffe School
12211 Titus Avenue

Leigh’s Favorite Books
121 South Murphy Avenue

125 South Murphy Avenue

Resource Area for Teaching
1160 Kern Avenue

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