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!