Giving is Good for Your Mental Health
According to the March 29, 2014 Sunday New York Times article Why Fund-Raising Is Fun by Arthur C. Brooks, donating money and time can improve a donor’s sense of well-being! 

“Why? Charitable giving improves what psychologists call “self-efficacy,” one’s belief that one is capable of handling a situation and bringing about a desired outcome. When people give their time or money to a cause they believe in, they become problem solvers. Problem solvers are happier than bystanders and victims of circumstance.”

The power of the problem solver concept is fundamental in both BookEnds’ fundraising efforts and our programs.  Our student leaders, who conduct the BookDrives, are introduced to BookEnds work at a kickoff event where they are exposed to the issue of unequal book access for students. They are asked to find a solution to this issue – and they always do – a BookDrive!   Our methodology was developed in order to enhance the positive and empowering aspects of giving in children, so they carry that lesson into adulthood.

We also want our adult donors to receive this message as well.  We share good news stories as well as opportunities for donors to attend book sortings and deliveries, in order for them to see the actual impact their dollars are making.  People become so moved when they see this.

All of our methods were developed instinctively, based on our experience with children and donors.  But now that there is science supporting our methods – our message will be clear:  Support BookEnds – it’s good for your mental health!
Gayle Baigelman
BookEnds Associate Director
41 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Let's Explore Together!
I've always wanted to be an explorer. I said this statement with absolute conviction and enthusiasm to my second grade teacher when our class had career day. She told me that an explorer wasn’t a job anymore and I would have to choose something else.

But I persisted. I covered my room with maps, I plotted trips across seas and sand, and I thirsted for when I could escape my suburban comforts and discover the world. I believed that life’s most potent lessons could be found only by scaling the world’s tallest mountain, spelunking to the depths of ancient caverns, or winding through dilapidated passageways towards the unknown. I imagined education as an ever-illusive spirit that I would spend my days chasing down dark alleys, racing around corners, or searching for in the spots the cartographers had left blank.      
Years later, as I continued to learn, as I explored libraries and books, as I learned more languages, I realized that I had been mistaken. Language could expand and contract to bridge spaces that our physical reality could never allow. Literature could transport me across those same seas and sand, shoot me up to the top of the mountain, and plunge me to the bottom of caves.  Beyond the literature itself, I learned that the classroom, the discussion table, the desk between a student and a teacher—these spaces could contain multitudes.           
Working at BookEnds, I feel the explorer in me revel each day. Each time I give a child a book through BookEnds, I am giving them a new world.
Casey Boersma
BookEnds Intern
15 Comment(s) | Add Comment
One Intern's Point of View

Growing up, I was one of the lucky ones and was surrounded by books.  These were books I could snuggle up to read every night before slowly drifting off to sleep. Reading was a time for my family to get together and share our joy in some of our favorites;  from Nancy Drew to Boxcar Children to the Chronicles of Narnia. We had the luxury to pick and choose a new book to read at our leisure.  It had not crossed my mind back then what it would be like to not have those books at my fingertips, to not dream about solving mysteries like Nancy Drew, or wondering if there was a secret world hidden in my parents’ wardrobe. I never imagined not having the option to drift away into another land of adventure, seeding my creative imagination.

Now, fast-forward ten years, where over the past few months I have had the pleasure of interning at BookEnds. Through this experience, I understand the great blessings I had growing up with reading and what a difference donating books can make in a child’s life.  One of my favorite moments as an intern so far is witnessing the excitement on a child’s face when they receive a book of their very own for the first time. It can almost bring you to tears as their face lights up with joy when they read through the pages, anxiously waiting to see what is next.

Not only do the recipient children find joy, but, what is great about BookEnds too, is that donor children learn the impact they can make on another at a young age, as they deliver the books and read to one another. At a reflection with a donor school the other
week, we asked the students to share their favorite experience reading to the other kids. One student commented about his experience reading to his “buddy,” saying, “his buddy was over-joyed when they read together! Once they finished reading one book, he always had another one ready to go!” This fourth grader is definitely making a life-long impact in another child’s life! Great things are happening with BookEnds, as they are helping improve literacy all over Los Angeles and showing the benefits of helping one another at a young age. I am just lucky to be a small part in it.

BookEnds Intern

21 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Collectors and Keepers
My co-worker is pregnant with her first child and I’m spending the summer grabbing the last minutes I can with my kids who are off to college in the fall.  The timing of this has me thinking about the “children’s books years” that lie between these 2 life events. 

Mine is a family of collectors and keepers, so when I knew I was pregnant, I immediately went to my mom’s house and grabbed all my favorite childhood books to read to my new baby.  Over the years, I also added many, many new books to the family collection, and most of them are now in my sister’s house for her kids.  I say most of them because I couldn’t let go of some of my favorites and wanted to ensure that they would be available to my kids to read to their children.

I’ve held on to favorites like: “Are You My Mother?”, “Ferdinand the Bull”, “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble”, “I Lost my Bear”, and onward to “A Wrinkle in time”, “Holes”, “the BFG” and “To Kill a Mockingbird”.   The list of books I’ve held on to, frankly, goes on and on – I guess I’m a collector and keeper like my mom. 

Books are definitely a connecting thread in my family, weaving through siblings, cousins, parents, and generations.  I can’t really explain the immeasurable joy I feel when I share my actual copy of a favorite book with my kids, or when I see one of our favorite books being read by my father to his grandkids.  We all feel like we are handling “treasure”, and of course, we are.

Don’t let your books collect dust in a box somewhere, bring them out into the daylight and have them light up someone’s imagination.  Pass them on to a pregnant friend, a kid at a local high-need school, an under-funded library – let these “treasures” do their job.
Gayle Baigelman
Associate Director, BookEnds
16 Comment(s) | Add Comment
How to Eat a Poem
I love poetry.  Limericks, haiku's, sonnets, epic poems - you name it - I'm interested in it. I recently reconnected with an old favorite of mine and wanted to share it. 

How To Eat A Poem
by Eve Merriam (by the way, an awesome lady way ahead of her time - look her up!)

Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up and eat the juice that may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now whenever you are.
You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth
For there is no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
to throw away.

Maybe this summer is a good time to read some poetry.  Some of my favorite children's poets are Shel Silverstein, Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, and Gez Walsh to name a few.  You'll laugh, you'll bond and you'll be hungry for more!

Gayle Baigelman
Associate Director, BookEnds
10 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Endeavor Shuttle, education and John Wooden.
Last night, appropriately sitting under the Endeavor at The California Science Museum, 400 people celebrated education in Los Angeles and the leadership of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Four years ago, the Mayor created the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, an independent nonprofit that focuses on turning around some of LA’S toughest schools in the city’s most impoverished areas. Their focus on change wasn’t uniquely remarkable:  great school leaders, highly effective teachers, targeted student supports and strong family and community engagement. I believe their impact was that they strategically focused and took action.
The results are impressive:  Partnership schools improved faster on the state Academic Performance Index than any other school system in California with more than 3,500 students.  I personally salute the leadership of Mayor Villaraigosa and the community of people who focused their time, talent and resources.  They modeled for us that even our most educationally underserved students are poised to dramatically increase their academic achievement; it is simply the need for all of us to take action.
One of the books that most influences me is Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” One of his habits is to ‘work within your sphere of influence.’ When we started BookEnds we didn’t think we could change educational policy (but we’re now working on that) but we knew that we could influence a classroom of young children through inspiring them to act to help their fellow students.  BookEnds sphere of influence now includes more than three quarters of a million children.
Last night was not only a celebration of the leadership of the Mayor and the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, but an affirmation and encouragement for all of us to simply take action because the action of each of us makes impact. Who first dreamed to build a spaceship to return again and again to the moon? How many people did it take to build the Endeavor? Each of us has our part and it takes the community of actions for us to reach the moon.  I salute and challenge each of you to take one step today to make our world a better place. “Make today your masterpiece” – John Wooden.

Robin M. Keefe
BookEnds Founder and President
10 Comment(s) | Add Comment
National Screen-Free Week
The list below is in acknowledgement of National Screen-Free Week, which runs through the first week of May. Consider this a celebratory expression of reading love, recognition that there is rarely time when it is inappropriate to pick up a book and read it. So the following is:

BookEnds Top 10 (and quite possibly the only 10) instances where or when you shouldn't have your face in a hot new bestseller or sultry classic. Browse carefully:
10) Your building has caught fire, your pets are home asleep and you are not on the last chapter of Watership Down, the part where Hazel is being approached by a rabbit with silver light shining from his ears.
9) Your spouse just came home with a new golden retriever puppy and is threatening to dress him in a Clipper's jersey and name him "Air Bud" if you don't pay attention.
8) Someone walks by, saying, "Krakauer's writing sucks," and you need to go fight them.
7) You're a newborn.
6) You've been elected President of the United States of America and the emcee is announcing you to the podium for the inaugural address.

5) You're having a bad dream, right? So you're in this elementary school being escorted into an auditorium where the entire student body is waiting for you to give a complete oral reading of any title you can find, except the only book you see is 50 Shades of Grey.
4) It's your turn to participate in M.O.C.A.T., the Mudwrestling for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Tournament.
3) Rumi has been resurrected and is approaching you about sacrificing your eyeballs in favor of a successful Dead Poet's Petition to inspire JD Salinger to write a full-length sequel to Catcher in the Rye.
2) You and I are on a date and are not already reading. (Unlikely.)
1) I need your help throwing away your TV.
 Enjoy your screenless week, fellow bookworms! 

Matt Devine
Director of Programs
50 Comment(s) | Add Comment
"Hop on Pop", Michelle Rhee and Creating Readers

My daughter learned how to read in the past few months. One night I am reading Hop on Pop (officially for the 3,757th time) and the next night she’s reading it to me. Not just from memory, but slowly sounding it out, word by word, thoughtfully working her way through the pages.
I was impressed. Not because she had learned how to actually read, but because it seemingly happened overnight. Now we know that’s not the case. She spent hours reading with her parents and grandparents from the moment she left the womb. Her time in pre-school and kindergarten provided her with the tools, structure and knowledge of the alphabet and reading mechanics…start at the top, read from left to right, etc. She spent hours playing word games on our iPads and mobile phones. Certainly there’s something to be said for technology when used responsibly. She is, as are we all, bombarded by words in our everyday lives through television, advertising, at school. It was all just a matter of time.
What I came to appreciate about the process was not only the time and energy it took so many to provide her with the gift of reading, but that the journey has only just begun. She moved on from Hop on Pop and conquered headier subject matter, like Are You My Mother. She eventually moved on to more complicated chapter books featuring fairies and goblins. We delved into the world of science, dinosaurs and of course, fashion. Through this journey I noticed her learning the nuances of the written word…inflection, meaning, and context.

This got me all to thinking. What if she didn’t have all these tools, all this support, all this opportunity? Learning to read was the only possible outcome for her.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case for too many children. So many kids don’t have the constant attention, a home library as large as their school’s library (which often don’t even exist), the consistency, the positive reading role models. We simply leave it to them to figure it out on their own.
Our communities crumble around us, illiteracy rates continue to grow. Ralph Waldo Emerson said in 1837 that, "The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself." Perhaps that has never been truer than it is today. Our approach to literacy is to let everyone figure it out on their own. It worked for us, but will it work for our neighbors?
I saw this played out this week in the news with increased attention focused on Michelle Rhee, the former Washington DC schools superintendent, now a crusader for education reform. Rhee derides the state of education, the control of teacher’s unions and the lack of focus on students. There are many who agree with her and many who do not. Regardless, it’s easy to see that students, especially those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds easily get lost in the shuffle.
A more paramount question comes to the surface though, who’s watching out for the best interests of students…the best interest of our community? Everyone says they are, but it’s a fractured time, where pundits would rather argue about philosophy and control than identify areas of compromise. Into this void steps BookEnds, with one simple goal; create readers and leaders. Provide access to books and have the kids handle the collection and distribution. Reuse gently loved books, so a youngster may experience their own reading transformation. Let’s celebrate each and every one of those accomplishments. In our household we quickly adopted the mantra, “We have a reader!” Let’s celebrate reading transformations throughout our communities. With your help, we will continue to shout “We have a reader,” for tens of thousands more kids.

Jeremy Sidell
Parent, BookEnds Board Member
9 Comment(s) | Add Comment
A Culture of Character
In the Winter 2013 edition of "The Willows Voice", the Willows Community School features five teachers speaking about the best way to model a culture of character for our students is by "walking the walk" - and with this in mind, the teachers reflect on the ways they work with students to make the world a better place.  Second grade teacher Ronit Liberman says the following: 

For the last 18 years, my students have participated in  a book drive benefiting BookEnds, a nonprofit organization that recycles children's books through student-run book drives and places them in schools and youth organizations.  Since we started the book drive, we have collected over 60,000 books!  We partnered with BookEnds when they were first starting.  The organization was developed by a middle school student; this fact really makes an impact on the children, who are struck by the idea that anyone can make a difference, no matter how old or young." 

BookEnds is so grateful for the longtime support and commitment of The Willows Community School.  Look what we have done together! 

Gayle Baigelman
BookEnds Associate Director
11 Comment(s) | Add Comment
The Power of One
Fifteen years ago I produced a news story on BookEnds featuring the founder Brandon Keefe.  The story was part of the “Power of One” series that ran at my station.  The Power of One stories featured the power of one individual or one group to make positive change in the world.  The positive change BookEnds has made for school children throughout the city of Los Angeles is undeniable.  Using its’ proven method, BookEnds has donated over 2 million books to children who need them. 
The BookEnds Method centers around student run book drives at one school and then those books are delivered to a school and students in need of books.  It is the power of one school to help another school!
At the time I produced the news story, I did not have any children.  A few years later when my son was born, I started reading books to him almost from the moment I brought him home from the hospital.  For families that can afford to buy books for their children, it is almost unimaginable that there are children who do not have books in their home let alone their school. 
Over the years, I have volunteered with BookEnds and I have been at a school for a delivery of books.  I have seen the joy on the children’s faces when they see the books for their classroom.  I don’t have to imagine who the children are who do not have books at home or in their classrooms because I have seen them.  They are children right in our own community.  The power of BookEnds has created 500,000 literate children.
BookEnds has been quietly making a difference for 15 years.  The power of BookEnds to make a difference and to create positive change in the world should not be a secret.  The power to share the BookEnds story is something we all can do.  How will you share the power of BookEnds

Who will you share the BookEnds story with?  
Let’s start today!

Kirsten Holguin
17 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Teaching, Helping and Increasing!
I look at my happy two-year-old son sitting on the floor of his room, surrounded by stacks of books and I am delighted by the smile on his face.  He LOVES books!  Even though he can’t actually read yet, he knows that books hold magical adventures, information about the world, and stories of familiar characters that are comforting to encounter again and again.  My older son, who is ten, is a veritable bookworm – he loves books so much you almost have to put them away to get him to focus on anything else!  So when we start running out of room for our kids’ books, we are so blessed to be able to donate the ones they have outgrown to BookEnds, and know that these wonderful books will have another life.  My sons’ gently used books will go on to captivate, educate and comfort other children – it’s recycling at its very best! 
I have also been so fortunate to become involved with BookEnds at a deeper level.  I was first introduced to the organization last year when my older son’s fourth grade project was to run a book drive for BookEnds.  He was so excited about motivating his school community to gather up gently used children’s books, which his class then sorted by age level, and then, as a class, they personally delivered them to kids at another LA elementary school who really needed them.  I went along for the delivery and I’m so glad I did!!!  We took the books to a LAUSD school that was in real need of books for their classrooms and reading programs, and the students there were so excited, you would have thought we were handing out tickets to Disneyland instead of books.  And you should have seen how big their eyes got when they were told they could each pick out a book to take home as their very own!  Kids from both schools then sat down and read together and played games together outside on the yard, and even though these kids came from different parts of Los Angeles, they really seemed to come away with a realization of how very similar they are!  This is why I’m so honored to sit on the board of this fabulous organization that meets at least three important needs in our community: teaching Los Angeles kids leadership and compassion, helping the environment by keeping books out of our landfills, and increasing literacy by providing books to children who need them!  I hope you will join me in helping BookEnds to grow its impact and supply more books to the children of Los Angeles – together we as a community can raise literacy and increase opportunities for our children!
As I was writing this blog entry, I came across a wonderful “Pep Talk” that seems so appropriate.  I want to be on the road that leads to awesome, don’t you?  Let’s each do something today to give the world a reason to dance:

Lori Kozak
BookEnds Board Member
18 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Attention-Deficit Educators
Recently, in a discussion amongst educators, someone asked the group the following question:
What can you do as a teacher in your own classroom to help facilitate a love for language and literacy?
Clearly, I’m hanging out with a very hip crowd.
This was not a rhetorical question. But for those interested enough in engaging the topic—hey, don’t stop reading yet!—the difficulty in reaching consensus on how to get kids to dig Chaucer or salivate over the newest Krakauer novel meant it might as well have been rhetorical. There’s just no easy answer for how to foster a love of books.
The conversation wound its way around the subject of literature, touching on ideas from learning latin roots for words to engaging diverse learning styles in a single lesson. All wonderful stuff, but all equally pretty boring. And it wasn’t soon before someone pointed that out.
Yup, that was totally me. I’m the attention-deficit intellectual in the room.
As if to respect my routable faux pas, the conversation began to shift. We started to talk about the value of developing “a coolness" around learning new words and phrases, fostering a classroom climate that nurtures learning opportunities as a shared experience enjoyable for everyone. This was significantly less boring. I’ve always thought that adults so often get caught up in the content and achievement of a thing, losing an enjoyment for the beauty of the process. Or at least that’s how I tried to justify hitting my classmates with spitballs in calculus class.
In the spirit of this conversation, someone pulled out her laptop (she brings it everywhere, that one) and pulled up a website she had recently come across. The site was from a local professor, and it provided some guidelines for optimizing a love for learning, particularly learning through literature.* On the website are 9 critical methods for motivating students, and it settled the debate pretty quickly. I thought I’d share them with you here:
1. Explain. Some recent research shows that many students do poorly on assignments or in participation because they do not understand what to do or why they should do it.
2. Reward. Students who do not yet have powerful intrinsic motivation to learn can be helped by extrinsic motivators in the form of rewards.
3. Care. Students respond with interest and motivation to teachers who appear to be human and caring.
4. Have students participate. One of the major keys to motivation is the active involvement of students in their own learning.
5. Teach Inductively. It has been said that presenting conclusions first and then providing examples robs students of the joy of discovery.
6. Satisfy students' needs. Attending to need satisfaction is a primary method of keeping students interested and happy.
7. Make learning visual. Even before young people were reared in a video environment, it was recognized that memory is often connected to visual images.
8. Use positive emotions to enhance learning and motivation. Strong and lasting memory is connected with the emotional state and experience of the learner.
9. Remember that energy sells. Being energetic in your teaching is a motivating factor in itself; adding energy to the ideas you want to convey will further enhance learning and commitment to the ideas.
That’s a list even an attention-deficit educator could embrace.
* Robert Harris, on his site Virtual Salt, a website full of educational resources:

Matt Devine,
BookEnds SmartyPants Director of Programs
4 Comment(s) | Add Comment
BOB books, bookmarks and BookEnds
At the age of five, when I first read a book on my own - even if it was just a BOB book - I fell in love. I fell in love with the characters authors created, with the world I imagined in my head as I read, and most of all, with the feeling of empowerment I had when I read on my own. When I found out about BookEnds, what really inspired me was their devotion to get kids interested in reading. Books such as Corduroy and The Golden Compass shaped my childhood, and by flooding classrooms with books, hopefully other children can have the same feeling when they find their story.  The impact it can make on the imagination and education of kids is enormous.
My first experience at a recipient elementary school really opened my eyes to the enormous need for BookEnds. We delivered thousands of books that had been collected by fourth graders running a book drive. We put a box in each classroom to start the ‘buddy’ reading. As I stood in one classroom, in the midst of kids paired up reading, a first-grader tapped my arm and showed me a bookmark he found in the box. “Can I take this?” he asked, a smile on his face. I told him of course, and turned to his partner to ask what book they chose. I noticed that the boy was still looking at me when he quietly asked, “What is it?” It took me a moment to realize he was referring to the bookmark, and that he had never seen or used one before. This was the second when it clicked- these kids are eager to read and fascinated by books, and we can give them the resources to become empowered by reading, just as I was as a kid. I scanned the room and saw dozens of young faces enraptured by the stories being read to them.
What I love best about books is their ability to place you into an imaginary world, to reveal the thoughts of characters you think of as friends, and to allow you to escape into a land beyond your own.

Madeleine Mountain
BookEnds Intern, UCLA Student

125 Comment(s) | Add Comment
I'll say it - I get jaded sometimes.  And then I come across stories that inspire me, and I'm a wide-eyed optimist again. The story of how BookEnds started always inspires me, but just today I came across another inspirational tale of someone who stopped to think for a moment and ended up, well doing something miraculous.   

Elementary school bus driver Ted Chaudoir cleaned out books from his daughter's old bedroom.  Although his wife said to donate the 80 books to Goodwill, he figured he'd see if the kids on his bus might be interested in them.  He told students that if they liked a book, they could take it home with them.  In 2 months, all the books were gone!

Ted's thoughtful act came to the attention of a reading specialist, and together they worked on rounding up more books for Ted's bus, and then expanding this program to all 16 bus drivers in the school district! 

Now, he's also got middle and high schooler's reading to the younger kids on his bus route.  The benefits to all are deep and far-reaching.

Sometimes, solutions to problems need to be complicated and dense.  But sometimes, a good, simple idea trumps all and is the very best solution there is.  Read more about Ted here

Gayle Baigelman
BookEnds Associate Director
5 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Our First Delivery of the Year!
BookEnds came out of the gate strong this school year, with the first major delivery taking place this past Tuesday morning.
Students at Palisades Charter Elementary delivered nearly 4,000 books to Western Avenue Elementary in South Los Angeles, capping off the most successful book drive in school history. Western welcomed the Pali students with open arms, leading a bilingual recitation of the national anthem, a thrilling dance performance set to Lean On Me, even a round of breakdancing. All in all, it was a rousing performance.
Before heading off to read with the kindergarten students, the Palisades kids joined the Western 5th graders in their handcrafted sashes for some homemade papusas and chicken. If lasting friendships are made over a meal, this was no exception. As the students parted, they promised each other they would stay in touch.
The morning ended with a veritable knockout punch of reading, with every classroom of kinder students on the Western campus staring mouth-agape at their literary captors. One Palisades student was so animated with her storytelling, one student asked, "Is she on TV?" It was a thrilling experience.
BookEnds was once again humbled by the enthusiasm and sincerity of our students and the adults they work with. The morning at Western was a testament to the power of reading and the impact of leading. We'd like to thank everyone involved for an inspiring morning.
We're looking forward to a great year!
Matt Devine
Director of Programs, BookEnds
10 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Matters of Consequence
“But the eyes are blind. One must look with the heart.”  As a young girl, The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was my favorite story.  My mother would read the book to me when I was just a toddler, and although I do not vividly remember this, she tells me that it made me laugh.  The book resurfaced when my brother was born and I was in the second grade.  I remember picking it up, this time trying to read it on my own.  At seven years old, I remembered why I had loved the book as a toddler, and I still laughed, but this time I was able to relate to the Little Prince’s thoughts.  I was particularly struck by his observation that “grown-ups are certainly very odd.”  After finishing the book, this time with a different understanding, I promised myself that I would never be concerned with adult-like “matters of consequence,” and I continued to remind myself that “only children know what they are looking for.” 

Thirteen years later, when I became a part of the BookEnds team as a Summer 2012 intern I once again stumbled upon this book from a donation.  I went home to read my copy and recount on my memories.  After reading the first chapter, the words sounded familiar, but this time they meant something different.  It did not take me long until I realized that this same book, once again, was teaching me new lessons.  I finished the story and had a sad revelation.  I was becoming one of the jaded adults I promised myself I would never be.  Those “matters of consequence” that as a child I had dismissed as so insignificant had become far too important in my life.  I was too involved with useless facts and figures that I had forgotten about the most important things in life, those that do not need proof, like love and happiness.  I had failed to remember the little things that I once cherished.  Now I am making an effort to balance my life.  I no longer want to miss out on life’s experiences because of my grown-up ideas of what is significant. The world has so many simple pleasures to offer, and I am now allowing myself to look with my heart.

Books give us the opportunity to introspectively learn and grow.  They also challenge us and help us answer those tough questions in life.  I am a firm believer that through reading and education, the youth will strive and grow, promising a better future.  I also understand the disparities various communities face with education.  Through my experience with BookEnds I also recognize that I have the ability to initiate positive change; WE have that ability.  In order to instill positive results in our world’s future we must invest in our youth.  By providing young people with books, we inspire them to learn and mature.  By providing leadership opportunities to young people we inspire them to realize their potential.  That is the BookEnds mantra; building leaders and readers.

Danna Reuven
BookEnds Intern Summer 2012
19 Comment(s) | Add Comment
The Fun Stuff!

BookEnds is up to its elbows in two things that I love – kids and books!  There are so many fun things our Directors of Programs get to do:  engage in warm interactions with excited recipient students, discuss the most recent reading strategies with educators, jump up and down with donor students at a pep rally for a bookdrive, find treasured childhood books in a giant stack of collected kid’s books, etc. etc.     

But, I’m not out in the field doing the “fun stuff”.  I’m the Associate Director of BookEnds, and I spend much of my time sitting at my desk managing, organizing, facilitating, strategizing, consolidating, structuring, coordinating, arranging, controlling, enabling, smoothing, helping, expediting, maneuvering, forming, planning and directing the various puzzle pieces that must work together perfectly for this (or any) nonprofit to function effectively.

But here’s my secret:  I think I’m the one who has the real fun stuff to do!  I’m the one in the office when a retired teacher comes in and hands over his cherished book collection and shares favorite teaching moments, it’s me who receives books from a proud mom whose son just left for college,  I get to shake the hand of a glowing girl scout who just got a coveted merit badge because of her book drive, I open the box of books that’s been shipped from out of state by a booklover who sent no note but just wants their favorite books to get into the hands of kids, and, it’s me who opens the mail every day and gets to read all of the wonderful thank you letters we get from excited readers!  

And here’s another secret – all that stuff I do when I sit at my desk?  I think that’s fun too!

Gayle Baigelman
Associate Director
6 Comment(s) | Add Comment
An Evolution

Let's talk about our pilot program. In the summer of 2011, BookEnds began a strategic planning process to look for ways to improve our program. We found some good ones, but this is my favorite: An exciting plan to deepen the relationships between our book drive and host schools.

Throughout the current school year, BookEnds has been taking four book drive partnerships and expanding their involvement beyond the usual delivery. This has manifested itself in a few different ways, but most exciting thus far has been the relationship between Westside Neighborhood School in Marina del Ray and the Garr Academy of Mathematics & Entrepreneurial Sciences in South Los Angeles south of the USC campus. The schools are a 20 minute drive from each other. Both schools had participated in the program in prior years, and both schools have extremely enthusiastic faculty members. It was a logical match.

Around the holidays, we began to plan our partnership. We would kick off in the Spring, and maintain the connection between the schools through the school year. So WNS would run their book drive as usual, but on the day their 4th graders introduced the book drive to the rest of the student body, they would be joined by Garr's 5th graders. This was an unprecedented event for BookEnds, arranging a reciprocal visit by the host school. And the benefits were evident.

The Garr students arrived on the WNS campus and introduced themselves to the 4th graders, chatting about their interests and reading together for a little while. Afterwards, the Garr students would spend some time with the WNS 2nd graders. Students on all sides seemed genuinely invested in the experience. And teachers on both sides believed that the visit ultimately made the ensuing delivery day that much more meaningful.

Two weeks later, that delivery happened. WNS personally delivered over 3,300 books to Garr, sitting down and reading those books with the Garr kindergarten students. Then, the WNS kids enjoyed some time competing with the 5th graders in a rousing variation of capture the flag. The kids recognized each other from a couple weeks before. They shook each others' hands, a few exchanging elaborate handshakes reminiscent of friends reuniting. The sense of camaraderie had formed.

So what now? Instead of parting ways, the two groups of students will follow-up with a pen-pal exchange before Spring Break, furthering their writing skills and continuing to build the relationships they had formed from their first two meetings. Later in April, the teachers will be setting up a Skype session between the students. We're currently looking at ways this technology might enhance the social relationships between the students, building their communication skills through a mutual love of reading, and, if possible, integrating the curriculum on the literature side as well.

It's been a hugely successful pilot project. But there is room to build. In the summer of 2012, our program committee will evaluate each pilot relationship to determine how we can offer experiences like the WNS-Garr partnership in the future. Because the more schools BookEnds can involve, the more kids we can impact. And that is reason enough to get excited.

Matt Devine,
BookEnds Program Manager

8 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Reading Aloud

Just want to take a moment to reflect on an old study put out by the National Committee on Reading that is still relevant to today's times.  Reading to kids outloud now allows for them to read on their own in the future.  So take a moment to step away from the TV, Computer and Phone and find a child to read to - because it will forever change their life and probably yours.

Anonymous Post


13 Comment(s) | Add Comment
1st Grade - BookEnds - College

College. It’s a loaded word with many goals and dreams and hopes attached. It’s the first major decision that truly affects the course of your life that you have some measure of control over. I can safely say that while my dream school has changed over the years, the lofty goals I had did not. Since seventh grade I’ve been working my butt off to put myself in the best position possible. It hasn’t been easy to say the least, but now as a senior in high school, I’ve finally made it.

BookEnds has played a huge part for most of my very short life. In first grade, I participated in my very first book drive at my elementary school. Instantly, I fell in love. What really sold me was the delivery and seeing how much of an impact BookEnds makes on the recipients. From then on, I knew I had stumbled upon something special. For the next five years I hunted through my bookshelves, doing my best to support the organization I love. In 9th grade I came back to the organization and took on greater responsibilities. I was welcomed to the Board of Directors that year.

Some kids struggle to find something that they love, something that they can commit to as commitment is the golden word when it comes to college admissions. I can’t count myself among them. When I was asked during my interview what an issue close to me was, BookEnds was the obvious thing to talk about. We spent about ten minutes of a thirty minute interview about the commitment I had made to such a wonderful organization. I can’t be sure of course, but somehow I know that Wesleyan University could see how important BookEnds was to me and how it has shaped me into the leader I am today.

Go Cardinals!

Jordan Fragan, BookEnds Board Member

6 Comment(s) | Add Comment
A winning combination!

Oprah – 10 pts Fun -6 pts Books -11 pts  You - 6 pts

14 years ago Oprah understood the power of BookEnds  -Creating Readers and Leaders.  She named 12 year old Brandon Keefe, BookEnds Co-Founder, as a young hero.  Today, BookEnds Kids have collected and hand-delivered over 2.3 million of their gently used books to educationally underserved youth in Greater Los Angeles.


BookEnds is celebrating!  Come join us at the 4th Annual BookEnds Scrabble Challenge on Thursday, March 8, 2012! 


Enjoy a buffet dinner, hosted wine, beer and valet, and bid on 5 star hotels,  famous and yummy restaurants, gourmet wines, all equipped guest house nestled  on a river in the Sequoias, jewelry, sporting events and memorabilia…. And this, just prelude to the light-hearted, spirited game of Scrabble. There are some serious players, but novices, aplenty. Kevin McKidd, Gray’s Anatomy star and Scrabble enthusiast, will MC. Please join politicians, celebrities, and lots of really good people interested in having fun while doing something really good!

Imagine! Schools in Los Angeles opened in the fall of 2011 with 1000’s of books locked inside their libraries.  You see, LAUSD could not afford to hire librarians!  Enter… BookEnds Kids, flooding classroom libraries with their current, gently used books.

A few years ago the grand RFK Learning Academy opened on the site of the famed Ambassador Hotel in LA.  One problem, the classroom bookshelves were largely empty, no budget for books!  Enter BookEnds Kids!   When our economy is experiencing scarcity, BookEnds is creating abundance!


Collecting an average of 1,200 books per drive, STUDENTS power the drives, then so meaningfully hand-deliver their treasure trove to student recipients. They read together and enjoy gifts of gratitude ranging from bakery goods to drill team and musical performances… All in all - unforgettable!  One Beverly Hills veteran teacher remarked upon returning from a delivery, “This was the best thing I’ve done with my kids in 30 years of teaching.”


Gloriously, last year’s Scrabble Challenge helped volumes, raising monies equaling $340,000 worth of gently used books.  You see, BookEnds Creating Readers and Leaders is most efficient! Every $100 donated results in at least $500 worth of gently used books, a 500% return!  Now where else can we get that!!

So, BookEnds Scrabble Challenge means everyone’s a winner,  but there are special  trophies , Casual and Competitive, and a Vintage Scrabble Game  and Book Drive honoring  the Grand Prize winners.

 If you’re in the LA area - for tickets and lots  of other information.  Do join us to provide the vital resources to support BookEnds powerful program.  Hopefully, you’ll come away so enthused, knowing you made a difference in the future of many deserving Los Angeles children.

Yours sincerely, Patti Tanenbaum – Scrabble Challenge Co-Chair

11 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Alice's Blog

While sitting in a field listening to her sister’s lesson, Alice catches a glimpse of a white rabbit running by her.  This all seems very normal, but things take a turn when she hears the rabbit speak and realizes that he is wearing a waistcoat.  The next thing she knows, the rabbit jumps into a hole and disappears.  Sparked by curiosity, “down went Alice after [the rabbit], never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.” Alice unknowingly enters Wonderland, and her adventures there will be life changing.  To me, reading has always been like falling down the rabbit hole into Alice’s world of imagination.  Literature is a wonderland, where the reasonable can become nonsense yet still have a profound impact on reality.

Once you fall down the rabbit hole, you are transported into another time and place completely.  You are taken out of the world you know, and you enter into the world of nonsense and make-believe.  This world may seem insignificant because it is not real, yet it has the power to take us out of reality and suck us in to what we are reading.  We can become mentally and emotionally involved in what we read, to the point where the images in the story come to life in our imaginations.  We don’t have to be taught how to enter into Wonderland—it just happens.  Even children who are just learning how to read can become immersed in a story.  It is natural for us to fall into what we are reading—we want to feel what the characters feel and understand the world through their eyes.  All it takes is one step, the opening of one page, and you have entered another realm where your previous knowledge of life may be flipped on its head.

            Wonderland allows you to find yourself after you become lost in it.  “Who are you?” is the first thing that the caterpillar asks Alice, to which she has no answer.  In Wonderland, we are able to look inside ourselves and figure out who we are from the challenges we are presented with.  It challenges us by making us question our own lifestyle from learning about different ways of life from different characters.  We are able to explore ourselves and decide who we want to be from what we learn in Wonderland.  We can ask ourselves these questions we might not have thought of before, and we can decide what we believe and the opinions we want to form.  The words that we read call us to further contemplation of life, and it is up to us to accept the challenge in order to find out who we are and apply this knowledge to our lives.

             Falling through the rabbit hole has helped me develop as a person, and I have been able to learn more about myself and humanity from my time in Wonderland.  Although this time may seem like nonsense to others because it does not help me get a job or make more money, I am much more satisfied knowing that I have spent my time learning who I am and gaining insight from this experience.  Alice has taught me more than many professors have been able to, because she allowed me to enter in to Wonderland with her and find myself through the nonsense. 

Abbie Case
BookEnds Program Intern



17 Comment(s) | Add Comment
An Investment in National Security

"An investment in education, is an investment in national defense."

My father, Dr. Harry Handler, made this statement many years ago when he was the Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District. 

Sadly, he is no longer with us, but his words still ring true in my mind.  Today's children must be armed with the best education possible if they are to meet the challenges of both the present and the future.

BookEnds understands the importance of providing all students access to a quality education and learning, begins with reading.  While BookEnds can't solve all the problems facing our educational system, it is addressing one of its most pressing needs: the need for books in our libraries and classrooms.

I am proud to be a member of the board of this outstanding organization as it works tirelessly with our communities to remedy our school's desperate need for reading material; one book at a time.

We are all aware of the challenges facing our schools today and it feels good to be a part, however small, of a solution.

Lisa Doherty
BookEnds Board Member
7 Comment(s) | Add Comment
8 is a magic number!

8 is a magic number! 

I don’t like to shop, but I’ll definitely be on Groupon next week!  On January 24 through January 26th, BookEnds and G-Team, the philanthropic arm of Groupon, are partnering for the benefit of Middleton Street School, here in Los Angeles. 

Middleton Street School is located in Huntington Park and has almost 1300 students, 100% of whom qualify for the federal free lunch program. They are very proud of their Mariachi group, folklorico group and drum line, which perform at LAUSD and City of Huntington Park functions.

The BookEnds Books for Middleton campaign will be available on Groupon Los Angeles G-Team page beginning on Tuesday, January 24 through Thursday, January 26.  Utilizing G-Team’s collective action model, Groupon subscribers can pledge support for the BookEnds Books for Middleton initiative in increments of $8.00, with each $8.00 providing $40 worth of books for students at Middleton.

We need to reach a tipping point of 40 people pledging $8, then BookEnds can distribute $1600 worth of books to the students at Middleton Street School. (OK, there isn't really an $8 bill, but 8 $1's will do!)

You must be a Groupon subscriber (free) to support this initiative!  Once you are, just go to the Groupon Daily Deal on Jan. 24, 25 or 26, scroll all the way down & look to the right for the BookEnds deal.

“We are excited to employ the collective action model of G-Team to raise support for “BookEnds Books for Middleton” said Robin M. Keefe, BookEnds President. We look forward to creating new awareness for BookEnds as one of the local organizations in Los Angeles to be featured on G-Team.”

100% percent of the G-Team campaign proceeds will be used to provide books for Middleton Street School students.

Gayle Baigelman
Associate Director, BookEnds

4 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Something like a Resolution.

Last week I attended a poetry reading in Canoga Park. Usually I avoid voluntarily going to Canoga Park because it is located in Canoga Park.1 But on this evening I made an exception. It was a Tuesday night. 53 degrees Fahrenheit.

I walked into the Cobalt Café and took my seat.4 The Cobalt is a bomb shelter of a space, complete with antique odors and timid lighting. A series of love seats and benches line the perimeter opposite the stage, accenting the chalky black walls. All of the attention would be focused on the reader.

I hadn’t been to a reading since my time in Chicago,5 frequenting readings everywhere from Uptown’s Green Mill—the birthplace of slam poetry—to a Wicker Park dive named Chinaski’s.6 So I may be rusty, but I have high expectations. The Cobalt did not disappoint.

There were readers of all backgrounds. A white-haired man in suspenders, reading an ode to Nixon-era hippies. Two brothers from Galveston, Texas, rapping in spoken word about W.E.B. DuBois. A single mother from Boyle Heights, waxing eloquently about the devotion of her immigrant mother. And me, with my old standby “ profile: successful”.7  

It was a wonderfully engaging and inspiring Tuesday night. Here’s what I’m getting at: You should go to a poetry reading.8 Integrate it into your New Years Resolution.9  Promising to take more risks? Go read that awful poem you wrote to your first love in 7th grade (come on, you totally kept it). Planning to exercise more? Put on your track suit and run to the Cobalt (informal attire is cool). Eating better? Bring an apple with you (what?). I really don’t care how you do it. But if you love reading or writing, if you are curious about your local community of budding writers, find an event near you. You might be surprised how much you enjoy it.

Canoga Park notwithstanding.

1I don’t care for Canoga Park.2

2Or didn’t. It’s kind of growing on me.3

3For example, Cavaretta’s Italian Deli? It’s totally awesome.

4I’m on crutches, so it was more of a hobble. I hobbled into the Cobalt Café and stumbled into my seat. For the record. 

5Not 53 degrees Fahrenheit in January.

6Points for anyone who can point out the irony herein.

7Not suitable for all audiences.

8Subtlety is not my strong point.

9My resolution is to use fewer footnotes.

Matt Devine, BookEnds Program Manager

12 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Catch a Contagion this Winter Break (....and pass it on!)

With the holiday season in mind and winter break just around the corner, I’ve heard a lot of talk about charity and giving. “It’s better to give than to receive,” and “the holiday season isn’t just about opening presents, it’s about opening our hearts.” Yeah yeah yeah.   We’re all aware that we are supposed to feel more motivated to “give back” during the Holidays, what with the trademarked “Season of Giving” and all that time off work. (And let’s be honest, the end of the year is practically earmarked for giving.) Still, with the reiteration of those, pardon me, stale sayings, many of us are moved. Moved to spend a day volunteering or even to simply pass up the opportunity to honk at a moronic driver with whom we’re sharing the road. We do all want to effect change in the lives of others and make a difference in the world. Right?

Here’s something interesting though. It may be easier than we think to change the world for the better. Well, actually, IT IS EASY, according to scientists and scholars.

I came across this article recently on (Yes, I’m that girl) which states that new lab evidence proves that “Acts of Kindness” are contagious. Lab Evidence! Yes, well anyway, apparently when one person performs an ‘act of kindness’, that ‘act of kindness’ spreads to other people and can be traced to three degrees of separation. It argues that “paying it forward” is not only a great idea, but that cascading ‘acts of kindness’ are what connect us with others; they’re the glue of our social networks. In short, ‘Acts of kindness’ rely on human connections, and human social networks would not endure without them. I found this to be super cool.

Here’s an example. I’m standing outside of BookEnds’ office on Sepulveda Boulevard. Scientifically speaking, if I run after a woman on the street because she dropped her sunglasses,  the woman will then kindly hold the door for the gentleman entering Baja Bud’s behind her, who will in turn pay a compliment to the family behind him in line, and the flattered parent of the family will then thank the cashier with an extra tip.  And in a quick five minutes, four more people have been swooped up in my contagious transmission of kindness.

While science is awesome, we don’t really need lab evidence nor scholars to tell us how contagious ‘acts of kindness’ truly are. I received a letter in the mail last week from a 3rd grade student recipient who recently participated in a BookEnds delivery. After making friends with and being read to by a generous kid who simply brought books for him, Allen said, “I’m grateful for the books because our school has no money to get books because of the economy, but you guys did it from the bottom of your heart. You made me want to send books to little children when I grow up, and you inspired me to be thankful for the books I have. Thank you very much!”

Gretchen Schroeder
BookEnds Program Manager


9 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Paramedics, garage fans, and generous hearts.

Through my work as President of BookEnds, I am forever humbled by the generous hearts and deep empathy found in most people I meet. During this holiday season when we struggle with reduced material resources, I find the overflowing human spirit a bountiful treasure.

I was at the gym early this morning, amongst a familiar group of highly driven people, when a gasp rang out.  A 76 year-old woman had fallen off the treadmill. Conscious but ailing, a large group of people quickly surrounded her, provided comfort and aide, selflessly stopping their worlds until the paramedics arrived.  

More than a year ago, I moved into a townhouse development where I share a wall with my neighbor Lori. As I have struggled with house maintenance, living alone and the day to day trials of life, Lori has been there. When her gate needed painting, she painted mine too; when she installed a fan in her garage she figured I would also need one; when she notices my car in the driveway and she had just made dinner, I get an invitation. And when my beloved dog got sick and I needed to get to the vet to put her down, it was Lori who I called, who held first my dog and then me.

I read the headlines, pausing at our economic malaise and political impasses, but what inspires my lasting impression is the energy and spirit of the common man who takes the time to help a stranger, be a great neighbor or read to a child.  With human compassion as our foundation, regardless of how faulty we sometimes build our house, the best of our world will endure.

Happy Holidays – may we thrive and enjoy the prosperity of spirit found in each other.


3 Comment(s) | Add Comment

When I was a child my second grade teacher told the class that every time we read a book we would go on a new adventure.  She said that authors take readers on magic carpet rides and that we could travel to far away countries both real and make-believe or slay dragons, or meet interesting people and learn about their lives or even solve mysteries.  As a child I loved each and every adventure.  I traveled to Lilliput with Gulliver, went to the arctic with Mr. Poppers, learned to love horses with National Velvet, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and learned about the lives of countless interesting people. My love of reading grew through the years and, today, I start every morning reading at least a part of a novel or interesting book that sits on my nightstand.

As a principal I wanted my students to develop that same love of reading.  I wanted them to get lost in the stories that reside inside of great books.  Many of the students at Limerick elementary had books at home but so many did not.  For many students, the place to find books was in their classroom libraries or in our school library. 

I remembered my childhood.  Hunkering down under the cover with my flashlight there were nights I could not put down my book.  I often finished a book in 2 days. With over 1000 students at Limerick most students got to visit the school library about every 14 days.  This limited their ability to exchange books and read…read…read!

One day a young boy and his mother called and said they wanted to donate books to the children at Limerick.  Brandon and some of his friends would run a book drive and with the help of his mom, Robin, would bring the books to our school.  Robin said we could give the books to the children, put them in classrooms, or use them however we felt would best benefit the students.  I was thrilled.  The thought of getting 50 new or slightly used books seemed great and I knew the teachers and children would be very happy to accept this wonderful donation.

Imagine our surprise when over 1000 books arrived at our school!  I immediately called our custodian, Mr. Henry and asked him to set up tables in the auditorium.  Teachers were amazed at the generosity of Brandon and his classmates.  The children were thrilled with their new classroom libraries.  That day, Brandon, his classmates, and their families not only touched the lives of over 1000 children, 63 teachers, and one principal but gave a gift that reached countless children and their families over many, many years.

It is the holiday time.  I just read an article that asked us to think about ways to help the less fortunate during this holiday season.  I can’t think of a better way than to give the gift of a book to a child.  Help that student travel that world through a great book.  Introduce him to great role models.  Let him get lost in a wild adventure or capture his curious nature with a great book about science.  Give students access to interesting novels of every genre. 

BookEnds serves a great need in our community.  I am grateful to have been the principal of the very first BookEnds recipient school. Brandon and Robin, thank you.  Let’s all be sure to support this wonderful organization through our donations, volunteer actions, and by getting the word out to others who can be of great support.

Ronni Ephraim
Chief Academic Officer at 2tor Inc.
Adjunct Assistant Professor at University of Southern California


17 Comment(s) | Add Comment
The Art of Reading

A guest blog!


When I sit around a table with a group of kids to discuss a book, I’m really sitting at the table to discuss their thinking.  The book, or the text, is the vehicle for our meeting of the minds; to push ourselves to find and examine the ideas burgeoning from within the texts (at times, or at first, not so obviously), to conjure up insights about a character’s experience, emotions, re-actions, thoughts, motivations, imaginations, etc., to grapple with real issues of humanity, individuality and group dynamics, to dig up the great ideas of what it means to exist in this world.  Really reading together, discussing together, gives us the great opportunity to be introduced to and to grapple with much bigger ideas that exist outside of ourselves, and yet reside in each of our souls, at any age.  To read, to really, truly read is to become and understand what it means to be human, because it gives us the lift off to think, to engage, to listen, and ultimately to dream, imagine, and create!

Happy Reading!

Rochelle Robinson
Library & Literary Arts, Laurence School

9 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Literary Recycling

A wonderful thing
conscious, fantastic, extraordinary
imagination isn’t reserved
dreamers might be
spend our brains
in viewing, understanding
opportunity to see
to fly along
while dreaming big               
to harness, transform
they collected books.

Poetry can come from the most unlikely of places. Above is a variation of an Oulipo exercise* known as the hiakuization. This is where the author extracts three words from each line of a given text to create a poem. The poem here was created from the two more “grounded” paragraphs from my September blog. It’s literary recycling. I think the update is better.

You should recycle. Recycle your junk mail, your discarded paper towel tubes and glass bottles, your #1 and #2 plastic containers and your compost. Recycle your words. And definitely recycle your books. There are kids everywhere who need them. And they are always better the second time around.

* learn more about Oulipo here:

Matt Devine, Program Manager

81 Comment(s) | Add Comment
A book or a Nook?

A book or a Nook?

There is a lot of conversation around whether paper books will go the way of the 8-track or 33 LP record.  As we get used to the convenience and utility of our technology devices, why would we care to be burdened and encumbered by a tome? As I reach out to our community in my work with BookEnds, it has now become a regular question I ask as I seek to understand a small aspect of the earthquake-sized ever-fluid impact of technology in our lives.

My small scientific survey results comes from as admittedly biased group of engaged readers, but the sampling includes kids, young professionals as well as sage executives. Surprisingly, I have found great consensus.  People love the convenience and ease of their Kindles and Nooks especially when they travel.  They use their computers throughout the day to stay abreast of the latest articles and news in their fields of interest. But even then if an article is lengthy people frequently print a copy of it to read. They confirm the research studies that our brains are better suited to retain detailed information from a printed page. And at the end of the day when they seek the universal joy, escape and entertainment of reading, their preference is to curl up with that ‘old-fashioned’ hard cover book. One man remarked, “you know, I have never fallen asleep with my laptop on my pillow.”

Robin Keefe,

BookEnds President


5 Comment(s) | Add Comment
What Role for Books in the Digital World?

There have been numerous discussions at BookEnds over the role books will play in our increasing screen-centric digital age.  Will novels be replaced by e-readers and textbooks by the iPad?  How can the physical distribution of books compete with e-books sent over the internet?  Should BookEnds be focusing its effort’s away from books? 

Here’s my two cents: Books are here to stay.

Johannes Gutenberg invited the printing press in 1440 – over 570 years ago.  Prior to Gutenberg’s invention, all written knowledge was copied by hand at the rate of a few pages a day.  Gutenberg’s press allowed for a single machine to produce 3,600 pages per day!  Few, if any inventions have had such a profound effect on our society, transferring wisdom, knowledge, and news to the masses.

The digital age has made access to information as simple as querying a Google search – but access to that information requires the ability to read.  Imagine not being able to read - I can’t.  Almost everything I do involves reading.  My work, iPhone, news, e-mail, travel.  The list goes on.

BookEnds serves communities without access to the basic tools they need to learn to read.  In an era of ever shrinking public budgets, school administrators are forced to make tough choices.  There is not even $1 exclusively allocated for the purchase of recreational reading books for students in the current LAUSD budget. Funds to upgrade the school’s computers are nonexistent. 

Now, how do you convince a school with limited funds to procure an expensive piece of hardware for each student (that will be outdated in 18 months), plus the various e-books and digital content necessary for learning?  Unfortunately I think the widespread adoption of e-readers for our public schools is a long way off.

In the meantime, elite private schools and those of us fortunate enough to enjoy an iPad or e-reader, may begin to migrate away from paper books (I’m still partial to the paperback).  This creates an awesome opportunity for BookEnds: redirect the unvalued ‘paper’ books to those who need them most. The ability of those disregarded books to inspire us to learn to read will never become obsolete; after all, the Gutenberg bible (the first mass produced book), printed in 1445 is still legible today.

Brandon J Keefe
BookEnds Co-Founder

8 Comment(s) | Add Comment
A Sense of Place: The Bedtime Story

           I was born into a relatively large family for today’s standards. There are six of us altogether. I am the fourth of four children, or more commonly known as “the baby.” I’m sure some of you can relate to the wonderful perks and, yes, the inconveniences that come with being “the baby.”

My family was always extremely close and extremely active. Family hikes and bike rides, tree-house additions, lessons on still-life paintings, spotlight tag (A better known, upgraded version is Kick-the-Can in Indiana) were all common occurrences for the whole family. I’m almost certain I had no concept of the true meaning of boredom throughout my childhood. And, though being the youngest automatically granted me the sideline positions and cheap paint supplies, I didn’t seem to mind all that much. I was happy to be a helpful, little shadow; watching in awe of my older siblings abilities. I didn’t exactly get gobs of personal attention, but such is the life of the “baby” of three awesomely able and active older siblings.

My parents, however, must have spotted my subtle yearning for “me-time”, because they always made a point of securing a special stage for me at night. At the early end of every evening arrived my Bedtime. Once I’d brushed my teeth, put on pajamas, had my hair gently braided, I would begin my library search. The rest of the day would melt away, and then it would be just me, cocooned in the covers and ready to read; to drift along my mother’s or father’s voice into adventures with new and aged characters.

Bedtime was My time.  I had books and favorite books and more favorite books. I would make my parents read them over and over to me, and when my parents became sleepy I’d let them sit back, rest their eyes and simply turn pages while I recited every word from memory. When I was seven, I memorized Winkin’, Blinkin’ and Nod and recited it like poetry to my patient mother every night for months, inflection and all.

Though I have countless fond memories of my childhood, when I think of Bedtime, I’m right back in that special place.

Gretchen Schroeder
BookEnds Program Manager

11 Comment(s) | Add Comment
What's missing? Part One.

When I was just about 10 years old, I went to summer camp everyday. When camp was finished for the day, I took the bus and then the subway to my dad’s office building. I would wait downstairs until he finished work for the day and he would meet me. It was the Prudential building in Boston. On the ground floor there were a number of different stores but I really only remember 3 of them: FAO Schwartz, Friendly’s and Barnes & Noble. I was a kid without any money. So going to Friendly’s for an egg cream soda was a special treat reserved for special occasions with my Dad.  FAO Schwartz had the most beautiful stuffed Steiff animals. They were truly magical and looked like they might come alive at any moment. But for some reason it was the Barnes & Noble that was my waiting spot of choice.

Back then, there was no Starbucks in Barnes & Noble and there weren’t any chairs but that really didn’t matter to a kid with time on their hands. I would cruise the shelves, finding something new and exciting to read, plop myself down in the aisle and lose myself in those books. It was a safe place, with endless distraction and really kind staff. I became somewhat of a fixture there for a few weeks each summer. One year, they even let me work inventory after hours. Not sure how a good a job I did, but it sure made me feel important.

Not surprisingly, bookstores hold a special place in my soul. I can spend hours in a bookstore anywhere. Hi De Ho Comics or Hennessey & Ingalls or Bodhi Tree or Book Soup. Or Barnes & Noble. B&N is where I took my older daughter from the time she was too young to walk just so I could get out of the house. And when she could walk, to share with her the delight of the endless beauty and creativity of children’s books. We spent many hours hanging there every weekend. And we have the book collection to prove it! She’s 19 now and prefers Dante and has read every play by Shakespeare. I guess bookstores impacted her, too.

For 14 years, in two separate cities, we had the privilege of living within walking distance of a B&N. It was a destination that got us off the couch and out of the house. It was a pleasure. Last year, the Barnes and Noble in Encino closed, replaced by a CVS. Now I live within walking distance of two CVS stores. Can’t say I feel quite the same about that. Borders in Sherman Oaks also closed last year. The nearest bookstore is a little more than 9 miles away. I own a car, it’s no big deal to drive there but somehow, that feels like far, far away. I feel an emptiness in my soul. I still love my house and the dog park. But there is definitely something missing for me now. And I am reminded of it every time I pass the corner of Hayvenhurst and Ventura Boulevards. Maybe, it’s time to move? 

Sadly, in my estimation, it is more likely that the days of bricks and mortar bookstores, and possible printed books themselves are becoming a thing of the past so moving isn’t really the answer. The bigger question, perhaps, is what will replace those Sunday afternoons spent in the bookstore, carefully selecting the next “read”? Where will those with a love of literature commune, even if they don’t speak a word to each other, to share in their common appreciation of the written word? How does a society without a temple to worship at retain their faith? That, fair and solitary reader, is something I believe is worth pondering.

4 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Who knew?

BookEnds ignited the "love of reading" spark in my child.  For this I will always be indebted to BookEnds.  Now, Dylan has grown from an emerging reader into an avid reader!

At a certain point in kindergarten, Dylan became frustrated with reading and decided to “never” read aloud to others for fear of incorrectly pronouncing words and being ridiculed.   Despite much encouragement, Dylan was content to read simple board books.  Dylan’s need for greater self-confidence led me to home-schooling him in first grade.

Dylans’ older siblings were actively involved in BookEnds book drives and deliveries.   So upon learning that his home-schooling group was planning a book drive, Dylan eagerly wanted to be involved.  He helped advertise, collect, sort, count, and box books for an upcoming donation to a recipient school in Oxnard. 

As delivery day approached, Dylan’s desire to give new life to these books became overshadowed by his increasing discomfort in participating, as he knew a part of the process was reading to the children.  He was encouraged to continue and on delivery day was paired with an older child. Together, they would take turns reading aloud and the older child would be there to support Dylan if he needed it.  The older child began to read to the group. The children quickly became excited and wanted Dylan to read to them too. 

Although apprehensive, Dylan dug deep within, mustered all the courage he had, and slowly reached for one of the books and began to read aloud.  The children smiled with enjoyment and their eyes widened with anticipation, as they listened to Dylan read them the story.  Dylan felt so empowered that day, because he not only was able to see the faces of the children receiving the books, he also was able to read aloud to them and feel their exhilaration.  Upon the urging of the kindergartners, Dylan’s one book became two and then three.  Gone was that fear of mispronouncing the words.  That day, Dylan began his reading journey!

My family had always tried to help BookEnds give the gift of reading to others.  Who knew that this act of giving would result in my own son, Dylan, receiving the greatest gift of all, his own passion to read!

Belinda Sacks
BookEnds Board Member


10 Comment(s) | Add Comment
The Magic of Books

I was nine years old when I first learned my mother had breast cancer. Suddenly my childhood wasn't filled with sunshine.  I worried who would take care of me.  I loved my mother very much and I didn't like seeing her suffer.  She was ill for fourteen years, most of my childhood years.

I escaped into the world of books.  I read every Nancy Drew mystery around.  I read Charlotte's Web, Treasure Island, Black Beauty, and eventually Ayn Rand's Fountainhead  and more....   For me, reading a book was like having a good friend.  It helped me get through this very difficult period in my life.  I became so involved in the book I was reading that I was able to escape the world around me.

On September 16, 2011 mother would have been 100 years old.  I could think of 100 ways to honor her but BookEnds takes on a special meaning to me.  It touches my heart and makes me smile. BookEnds creates a magical way of getting books to children...and brings a little sunshine into their lives. (just as it did with me).

Therefore, in honor of my mother, I wanted to give to BookEnds.  My mother died at age 58.  However, if she were alive today, I just know she'd be a huge supporter of BookEnds, too.

Carol Zaslow
BookEnds Board Member

6 Comment(s) | Add Comment
A Note on Imagination (And Baseball)

So last night I had a dream that I was working the ticket booth at a minor league baseball game. It was awesome. I was a kid again and my childhood friend, Mike Butler, was working the popcorn beat. It was a dream gig.* I had a view of home plate. I didn’t have a single zit. Then, Cal Ripken Jr. comes up to the booth asking for tickets. The Cal Ripken Jr. You know, the guy who broke Lou Gehrig’s Major League Baseball record for 2,130 consecutive games played? The 19-time all-star infielder? The Iron Man? Yeah, well he was older with a pretty healthy gut, but even without the Orioles hat you couldn’t mistake him.

“Whoa, Cal Ripken!”



“Gimme the best seats you got.”

That’s when I fainted.

Imagination is a wonderful thing. Conscious or not, it can take you to the most fantastic places with the most extraordinary people. And the wonder of imagination isn’t reserved for just children. Dreamers of all ages employ imagination on a regular basis to contemplate realities of which we might not otherwise be aware. Whether contemplating Columbus’ voyage of 1492 or theorizing about how to spend the winnings of that hypothetical lottery ticket, we humans use our imagination to wrap our brains around things that are beyond the realm of our experience.

In viewing imagination as a tool for understanding, we must do our best to encourage it in our children. At BookEnds we have the opportunity to see kids exercise their imagination on a regular basis. When brainstorming how to advertise for his school’s book drive, one 4th grade student suggested we rent a blimp and fly a large sign along the coast. While as a class we determined that might not be the most cost-effective option available to us, the blimp remained throughout our project a symbol of dreaming big. The students learned to harness that imagination and transform it into success. They collected over 4,000 books. The most in their school’s history.

When in my baseball dream I woke up from fainting, Mike was in the ticket booth with me. We looked down near home plate and saw Cal sitting in the third row. We sat in awe for a moment.

“Dude,” I said. “You know that’s Cal Ripken.”

“He’s really tall.”

“Yeah, his gut was like laying on the window sill.”

“Did you let him in without paying?”

“Yeah. I don’t even know how to work this computer thing.”

Then this little helicopter landed on the dugout and whistled up to the booth. Mike turned to me.

“It’s your ballgame, bro.”

As I left the booth and walked past Mr. Ripken, I gave him a wink. Then, even though I was never much of a pitcher, I grabbed a glove from the chopper and took the mound. The crowd went wild. I wasn’t sure why. But I ended up pitching a perfect game.

Only in dreams.

*Literally and figuratively.

Matt Devine,
BookEnds Program Manager

7 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Giggling, laughing, travelling and crying.

Yesterday, one of my friends emailed me to find out where she could donate the children's books her sons had long since "outgrown."   Among my circle of friends and their circles of friends, I am the go to person to call with book donations when its time to move, update a bedroom or just make space for the new books that arrive when each school year begins.  I love to receive the calls and emails looking for a place that will breathe life once again into these books that as parents we giggled, laughed, travelled, and sometimes even cried through with our children. 

 During these conversations, my friends and I will talk about how our children have grown, the books they are reading now and how we wish we could jump in a time machine and spend one more night reading - just one more book - to them as toddlers.  We talk about where the books that are donated to BookEnds will go - to children who do not have bookshelves filled with books in their bedrooms or classrooms.  We also talk about how nonsensical it is that there are children in Los Angeles that simply don't have access to books that will foster a love for reading, learning and imagining.  When our conversation is over, we are grateful that these books that shaped our children will have a new classroom of students to inspire.

I hope you too will donate your wonderful, funny, sad, inspiring, crazy children's books to BookEnds.  Just give the office a call 310-478-2665 and arrange for a convenient drop off. 

Wrenn E. Chais, Esq.
BookEnds Board Chair

4 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Challenge Yourself!

I relate one of my childhood memories with a sheepish smile:  When I was about 7 years old somehow I became concerned that I would be stranded alone on a deserted island.   I loved my life, my room, my books, my school.   My overwhelming fear was that I’d not be able to replicate, on the island, the quality of life that I enjoyed.  So I became determined to master ALL areas of expertise so that I could single-handedly recreate civilization!

When we launched BookEnds, I realized that I had landed on that island.  But with age had come some wisdom, and I now understand that civilization requires the collective intelligence and actions of all humanity.  BookEnds serves as both a microcosm of civilization as well as a testimonial to the best of our civilization.  Born from a dream of an 8 year-old boy, BookEnds is a community of people who, through a million small acts, transform that dream into our impact of today.

As we launch our new website I am again reminded of what we can do together and cannot do alone.  As you read through our site and learn about our simple and effective program, I urge you to challenge yourself to find your place in BookEnds. I look forward to hearing from you with your thoughts, ideas and interests.

President and Founder


11 Comment(s) | Add Comment