All kinds of children's books are sought for the Happy Valentine's Children's Book Drive. Last year, a few donors carried the theme through their donations.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Today begins The Charleston Gazette's second Happy Valentine's Children's Book Drive.
From now until Feb. 14, the Gazette will collect new and used books for children of all ages.
Book drive partners Children's Home Society and Read Aloud West Virginia have again agreed to help distribute books to children around the state. Both Kanawha and Putnam county libraries have again agreed to serve as collection points.
Last year, generous readers contributed more than 10,000 picture books, board books, comic books, early readers, chapter books and nonfiction volumes. They went to children in all regions of the state through after-school programs, community centers and other contacts.
"It would be fabulous to make even more books go out to homes that may be affected by library cuts and to children who are generally in need of a good book," said Susan Shumate, vice president of The Daily Gazette Co.
Last year, Sacred Heart Grade School in Charleston took the book drive on as a community service project for Catholic Schools Week and gathered hundreds of books to share with other children.
"Hopefully, we'll see other schools take the same initiative," Shumate said.
Grandview Elementary School Principal Erin Sullivan has already agreed to participate. Students, staff and friends of the school will gather organize a project around the book drive said Grandview librarian Kelli Ellis.
The book drive was created last year by Gazette Publisher Elizabeth E. Chilton to help put engaging reading material in the hands of children who need it.
For decades, researchers have documented that having access to reading materials makes a difference in how well children learn to read, which then influences school performance, test scores and even how far children go in school. Level of education leads to employment, of course, but also influences lifetime earnings and even health.
One study at the University of Nevada found that having even as few as 20 books in a home was associated with a significant educational difference. The difference was clear whether parents were rich or poor, highly educated or not.
Still other research has shown that reading to children from an early age helps them to grow into better readers themselves and to develop a reading habit. Children who read for pleasure tend to read more, which helps children become fluent and succeed in school.
Last year, donors brought a great variety of books.
"Some of them were newer books and some were older," Shumate said. "They went all the way from picture books all the way through high school. It was nice to have that variety because it's not just small children who need books."
The Gazette asks for donations of books suitable for children of all ages, from infancy through high school.
Used books are welcome, but books should be clean and in good shape, free of dirt and mold or excessive tears or markings.
Donations may be dropped off through Feb. 14 at:
The lobby of Charleston Newspapers at 1001 Virginia St. E.
Putnam County Public Library's main branch, 4219 W.Va. Route 34, Hurricane.
Any branch of the Kanawha County Public Library.
Schools or organizations are invited to participate and may contact the Gazette for more information.
Reach Dawn Miller at email@example.com or 304-348-5117, or on Twitter, @gazette_opinion.