“Most kids who grow up in poverty don’t own any books in their home,” said Diana Graham, who leads the foundation. “Owning books in a home is one of the single best predictors of academic success – even outside of parents’ education and socioeconomic status.”
The nonprofit was founded in 1999 by Graham’s mom, Bonnie Graham, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. “She thought about ‘if I don’t make it, what should my legacy be?’ ” Diana said. “She was a teacher and book lover and helper of folks who needed help.”
Bonnie Graham ran the foundation until her death from the disease in 2006. Diana and other friends and family members have continued the work in her memory. With just a dozen or so volunteers and a garage for storage, Bonnie’s Book Foundation distributes nearly 15,000 books a year. Book giveaways have been held at high poverty schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, the Haven House and other agencies.
“We like to ideally have kids pick out books themselves,” Diana Graham said. “You can see the sparks in them – they get excited. You can tell even in that moment that it makes a difference.”
9660-138 Falls of Neuse Road, Box 285
Raleigh, N.C. 27615