Bestowing books in a time of need

With schools and libraries closed due to COVID-19, many area children have little to no access to books. For every 300 children in Kansas City’s low-income neighborhoods, there is an average of only one book in the home. Andrews McMeel Universal (AMU) is stepping in to help, donating more than 21,000 books to local literacy organizations to distribute to those in need.

In March, AMU donated 500 books to Teach for America – Kansas City, which will distribute them to local middle-grade students. AMU also partnered with Turn the Page KC (TTPKC) to provide 20,704 books across multiple age ranges.

“It is critically important to ensure that all students have access to high-quality books in the home,” said TTPKC Executive Director Mike English. “Andrews McMeel’s donation of new, highly engaging books enables Turn the Page KC to partner with local school districts in order to keep students on the path towards literacy.”

According to Turn the Page KC, third-grade reading proficiency — the critical dividing line for literacy — is only at 55% in the Kansas City, Missouri, school district, where roughly half of all students drop out of school.

“Reading is not only the bedrock of our business, it is critical to the growth and success of our community and its people,” said AMU Communications Director Shelly Barkes, who leads the company’s Community Investment program. “Part of AMU’s mission is to enrich lives, and what better way to do that than to use our resources to help keep kids reading during this difficult time.”

TTPKC will distribute the books to early childhood centers and area schools that are offering free meals available for pickup, said English. The remaining books will be passed out during the organization’s annual summer reading event, which reaches thousands of kids.