Midtown Raleigh News

Raleigh nonprofit provides free kids’ books

Mission: Bonnie’s Book Foundation collects and distributes books to needy kids through Title I schools and other agencies in Wake County that serve the poor.

“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.”

Donations needed: New and gently used books for children ranging from infants to teens. Donations can be dropped off at Linda Craft Realtors, 7300 Six Forks Road, Raleigh, or at Sip wine store, 1059 Darrington Drive, Cary. Donors can also browse the group’s Amazon wish list and send books directly at amzn.com/w/38QLTKV2W20DX.

Volunteers needed: Bonnie’s Book Foundation seeks volunteers to organize a book drive at their school, office, youth group, scout troop or other organization; the foundation provides the tools needed. The group also needs volunteers to help sort and deliver books to recipient groups, as well as maintain free bookshelves at schools and children’s program sites.

$10 would buy: Four new early reader picture books (such as “Green Eggs and Ham,” “Corduroy” or “Curious George”) for a child who doesn’t have books at home.

$20 would buy: Four new board books (such as “Goodnight, Moon,” “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” or “Are You My Mother?”) for an infant or toddler without books at home.

$50 would buy: A classroom set of a classics such as “Charlotte’s Web,” “A Wrinkle in Time” and “Where the Wild Things Are.”

Contact information: Diana Graham, 919-335-3356

9660-138 Falls of Neuse Road, Box 285

Raleigh, N.C. 27615