Michigan 4-H helps improve youth literacy through thousands of free books

During the week of August 8, at least 350,000 books for youth ages 0-18 will be distributed to 4-H programs and other youth organizations across Michigan-for free.

During the week of August 8, at least 350,000 books for youth ages 0-18 will be distributed to 4-H programs and other youth organizations across Michigan—for free.

The massive distribution is thanks to a 4-H partnership with the organization First Book, a national nonprofit that provides new books to children in need. Since 1992, First Book has distributed 80+ million books, including through the book bank program that is coming to Michigan. These are new books, donated by children’s book publishers to First Book.

To participate, a group must first register with First Book at www.firstbook.org/register. They’ll be asked during online registration to verify that their program is serving 80 percent or more children in need. Once registered, they’ll receive an email from First Book on July 19 with more information on how to choose the books they want to receive for their group. During the first few days of application, only groups affiliated with 4-H will have access to the application site, allowing 4-H groups to get first pick of the thousands of books available the week of August 8. After the first few days, application will be opened up to other youth groups who meet the needs-based criteria.

Organizations can either pick up their books at the Lansing site (the site will be in the July 19 email) or arrange to have them shipped for a fee of $0.35 per book (by the carton).

Volunteers are needed to assist with book distribution during the week of August 8, as well. Look for information to be posted on the 4-H website with more information about volunteering and the book distribution itself. You can learn more about First Book at its help center http://help.firstbook.org and on their blog http://blog.firstbook.org

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