As families around the country shelter in place, one California bookstore has started giving free books directly to kids in need during this difficult time. Even though the bricks-and-mortar location of Print and Page Booksellers in Crestline, Calif., is closed for the Covid-19 crisis, the owners aim to get a book to every one of the more than 3,200 K–12 students in their local school district.
The bookstore serves a rural community in the San Bernardino Mountains, and the school district is spread out over a large geographic area with a number of children from low-income families. When the shelter-in-place orders arrived in California, the booksellers knew that the combination of layoffs and rural isolation would hit their community hard. “Suddenly, we had an entire Title 1 school district at home, in a relatively remote area where getting parcel deliveries is difficult and reliable wi-fi and cell reception is not a guarantee,” said Devina Horvath, who cofounded the store with her husband, Eric Vincent.
The booksellers have a request form on the site so local families can order a book for their child—one book per kid in a household. In the first two days of the program, Horvath and Vincent had driven around the community filling more than 20 orders themselves. They’ve now made 50 deliveries and receive many new orders every day. One local mother ordered a book from Erin Hunter’s Warriors series for her daughter and sent a thankful email to the booksellers when the package arrived: “It’ll make a wonderful surprise to cheer her up. She’s so upset about school, this will just be the perfect thing,” she wrote.
Print and Page Booksellers is collecting donations online to help fund the program. In just two days, they received enough funds to supply books to 100 more kids. “If we get enough support, we plan to expand the program geographically and allow kids to request another book. When things go back to normal, we are going to use any remaining donations to supply books to local school libraries and teachers,” Horvath said.
Horvath and Vincent moved to the region last November, and had opened their Covina location less than three weeks before the shelter-in-place orders. They are still fulfilling and shipping customers’ paid book orders, as well as audiobook offerings through Libro.fm. “This was something we could do for our community in a time where things feel scary and hopeless,” Horvath said. “Books are the best way to travel when you’re stuck at home.”