Schools helping schools: the Bryant Elementary book drive

Steve Garlid is a fifth grade teacher at Bryant Elementary in northeast Seattle, and he has helped to host many successful book drives with his students benefiting Page Ahead over the years. This year, the fantastic Bryant community collected 727 books and raised more than $360 through a fundraising event at Third Place Books! He graciously agreed to answer our questions about how the Bryant Hawks always manage to knock it out of the park.

Page Ahead: How does doing a book drive for Page Ahead fit into the community building that you and your fellow educators do at your school?

Steve Garlid: This year we engaged in service projects related to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Our theme this year, “Think Globally, Act Locally,” led us to choose local organizations like Page Ahead to support. Fifth graders could get behind organizing a book drive since books are a huge part of their lives.

PA: As a teacher, how do you share responsibility for the book drive’s success with your students? Are they able to take leadership roles?

SG: The first step is to discuss what books mean to kids, and to think about the difference books can make. It’s important to let the class decide whether to do the drive or not.  If a class reaches consensus, the drive goes much better.

Once we decide to do a drive, we think of all the ways we can promote it (posters, fliers, book marks, sandwich boards, announcements, short videos, etc.) and divide these tasks among students. Letting them name the drive (this year we named it “Hawks Have Hearts”) gives them an additional sense of ownership.

PA: Does doing a book drive engage your students differently from doing, say, a food drive or a warm coat drive? If so, how?

SG: We had a really successful food drive this year too. And yes, books have a special place in kids’ hearts.  Working with our local bookstore [to hold a benefit sale event], Ravenna Third Place Books, allowed kids and their families to have an outing that was fun and supportive of a good cause.

PA: How do you set your book drives up for success? What’s your secret for collecting so many books?

SG: There’s no secret.  We just do a lot of promoting, and make sure every student and parent in the school knows about it. Plus, we let the students do as much of the work as possible. This means collecting books, making posters, counting, boxing, and promoting the drive as much as possible. This year, we coordinated our drive with the school book fair organized by our librarian. That was a nice tie-in.

PA: What advice would you give to another school or community group who is considering doing a book drive for Page Ahead?

SG: Go for it! Every book helps. [Page Ahead note—this is so true!] Plan ahead, and promote the heck out of it. Make sure the parents all know about it in advance. Let the kids name it and think of ways to promote it. Work with a local bookstore to arrange a “give back” night. Two weeks for a book drive felt about right. Have fun with it!

Thank you, Mr. Garlid and the Bryant Elementary community!

June 2023 newsletter

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Nearly 22,000 kids are ready for summer reading with Page Ahead books

We are finishing up our Book Up Summer book fairs with 122 elementary school partners across Washington state. This year we added 16 new schools in the Franklin Pierce, Renton, Columbia (Stevens County), and Mary Walker school districts to the program.

21,594 students self-selected 12 new books to keep and read this summer and beyond, at no cost to them or their families. That means 273,947 new books are on their way into homes of students that need them the most.

Thank you to our donors, our dedicated school partners, and our volunteers, for working together to give students the  tools they need to become strong readers.

I was so impressed by the books that came home. My child said she chose them and she was quite proud of her selections. The quality of these books is quite high—great content, beautiful art, and relevant storytelling. I couldn’t be happier.

 parent of a first grader, Madrona Elementary, Highline

Thank you, Page Ahead volunteers!

It takes many hands to bring over 200,000+ books to students across the state during our Book Up Summer book fairs. This year we were very fortunate to have more than 100 dedicated Page Ahead book fair helpers volunteer in Mount Vernon, Marysville, Edmonds, Seattle, Renton, and Spokane schools.

These generous volunteers donated more than 500 hours to help students choose, count, and label their new books with to take home. We are all very grateful for their time, efforts, and dedication to children’s literacy.

Amazon Book Buddies

This spring, as part of their Kickoff to Summer Reading volunteer campaign, joined forces with Page Ahead to bring the powerful experience of building a home library to thousands of young Seattle Public Schools students.

In May and June, Amazon employees volunteered as Amazon Book Buddies to help Seattle students select 12 books to take home for summer reading and beyond. During that time, 233 Amazon employees volunteered 531 hours at 20 Seattle schools! Page Ahead and our partners in the Seattle schools are so appreciative of this incredible investment in our students’ future success!

Thanks, Amazon!

Federal Way students receive a special gift from First Tech!

Read all about it: Page Ahead’s annual impact report for the 2021–22 school year is now available!

Find out about how the home libraries Page Ahead built for kids made a difference last year by visiting

New episode of American Dream spotlights Page Ahead

Thanks to our friends at the TRI STAR Team for visiting Page Ahead and highlighting our work on the show American Dream. They’re also helping us stock all the bookshelves you see in this video so we can distribute books to the kids we serve! If you’d like to participate in their online book drive, visit here to support their efforts to fill our shelves.

Have a WONDERFUL summer!