A book desert is a term first coined by Unite For Literature, in reference to a geographic area where literature and reading materials are difficult to obtain, for example areas of poverty where money and resources are used for other necessities such as food and clothing. Unite For Literature first introduced the terms to put a spotlight on the “structural inequalities that compromise children’s reading development.”
Dr. Molly Ness, created End Book Deserts to tackle the inequality in reading and ensure that “all kids have access to books and book culture.” A self-confessed bookworm, former classroom teacher, educator and university professor, Dr. Ness who grew up in a ‘literacy-rich’ community and understands the importance of access to literature in creating lifelong readers.
In American a staggering 32.4 million children go without books. What’s more, according the U.S. Department of Education, around 61% of low-income families do not have any books at home for their children, while 45% of children live in neighbourhoods that lack public libraries and bookstores where literature can be obtained, and 67% of the schools and programs in these neighbourhoods can’t afford to buy books at retail prices.
To tackle this inequality, End Book Deserts spotlights “innovative people and programs working to reach young readers in urban and rural communities.” Their podcast, of the same name, discusses unique literary initiatives such as Little Free Libraries, The Book Fairies, Little Readers and Project LIT to “expose and highlight the structural inequalities that detract from literacy opportunities.” By highlighting the amazing work carried out by these innovative organizations and grassroot efforts, End Book Deserts raises awareness of the negative impact of limited literary resources on children’s reading development.
“Through advocacy, fundraising, and author outreach, we strive to eradicate book deserts, get the right book into the hands of the right reader, and promote lifelong reading for all children,” explains End Book Deserts Website.
If you would like to support End Book Deserts in their efforts there are many ways you can do so. You can host your own book drive to collect donations of age-appropriate reading material for local schools and organisations. You can nominate a program or person that lives and breathes the End Book Deserts mission to feature on the podcast. If you’re part of a corporation you could consider a sponsorship to provide concreate resources (books of course) to children in need. Last but not least, you can spread the word about End Book Deserts using #endbookdeserts on social media and wearing their clothing and accessories which are coming soon.
If you want to learn more about End Book Deserts, please head to their website, and why not give the podcast a listen?