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Bush-backed books program gives Houston kids the chance to build home libraries

Bush-backed books program gives kids the chance to build libraries

Amy Barnes, from left, Julie Baker, Sandra Ahlhorn and Neil Bush at the Books Between Kids project November 2013
Amy Barnes, from left, Julie Baker, Sandra Ahlhorn and Neil Bush at the Books Between Kids warehouse. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Students from Sharpstown International High School in HISD sort books at the Books Between Kids warehouse
Students from HISD's Sharpstown International High School sort books at the Books Between Kids warehouse. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Marty Goossen, left, and Neil Bush at the Books Between Kids project November 2013
Marty Goossen, left, and Neil Bush sort books at the Books Between Kids warehouse. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Amy Barnes, from left, Julie Baker, Sandra Ahlhorn and Neil Bush at the Books Between Kids project November 2013
Students from Sharpstown International High School in HISD sort books at the Books Between Kids warehouse
Marty Goossen, left, and Neil Bush at the Books Between Kids project November 2013

Everyone owns at least a few books that they will never read or use again, and thanks to Sandra Ahlhorn and Amy Barnes, those books can be reused and loved by children in HISD schools.

Just over a year ago, Alhorn and Barnes, who held separate book drives at their children’s elementary schools, thought they could be more effective by joining forces. The pair founded Books Between Kids, a program which collects gently used books books that children have outgrown or no longer read and gives them to HISD schools. The books are set up in the recipient schools much like a book fair where the children are aided by their teachers in their selections and are encouraged to take six books home.

The goal of the program is to help children build their own home libraries. Ahlhorn explains that "studies link book ownership to an attitude that is more likely to see a child stay in school, partly because they think they are book owners, and partly because the presence of books allows them to practice their hard-earned reading skill."

 The goal of the program is to help children build their own home libraries.  

The Points of Light Foundation, founded by George H. W. and Barbara Bush, honored the Books Between Kids program this week with the 5,086th Daily Points of Light Award for the organization's exceptional service, in addition to a financial grant to help fund the warehouse used to store and sort the donated books.

Neil Bush, representing his father's foundation, was in Houston to present the award and was able to see how the program works first-hand. "I think that this is an extraordinary program, and not many stack up to this level," Bush told KHOU 11 News.

"Extraordinary" is right. In the first year alone, 100,000 books were donated to Books Between Kids, which is enough to give more than 15,000 children the ability to start a library of their own.

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