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Education Station: How the Cleveland Kids' Book Bank is helping kids get an early jump on reading

Dedicated volunteers pack and sort books each day. And the result? Hundreds of thousands of them distributed to area kids each week.

CLEVELAND — At the Cleveland Kids' Book Bank, words matter. 

"We give out hundred of thousands of books a year to kids who need books," said Cleveland Kids' Book Bank executive director, Thea DeRosa Cerra.

And, just so we're all on the same page, since opening up five years ago, Cleveland Kids' Book Bank has distributed 3-million books to kids throughout Greater Cleveland.

"Many kids who have not had a home library, who have not owned a book in the past, now have access to books," Thea said.

What may seem like busy work to you, serves a far greater purpose for these volunteers.

"The idea that there are 75% of kids in the city of Cleveland who don't have books in their home, I am happy to know that these books are getting out there in somebody's hands," said longtime volunteer, Michele Sommerfelt.

Thea says the mission is a team effort.

"We have 1300 different partners who order books from us and one of our biggest partners are school systems like (Cleveland Metropolitan School District)," Thea said.

"We work with Head Start programs, county programs, nonprofits, after school programs," Thea said.

Programs like the Wednesday book club at Charles Dickens Elementary School, show it's not just about reading, it's about growing something at home, these kids have never had.

"They do some fun activities and some fun lessons. And at the end of the week, kids get to take that book home to help build their home library," Thea said.

They're building on something else, too: Early reading.

"Our mission is, we want to build a strong found foundation for literacy and reading at a very early age. And we want to do that because so many studies and statistics show that children who have a strong foundation in literacy, really excel in academics all around," Thea said.

Words matter at home, at school, and at Cleveland Kids' Book Bank, where smiles and books come for free.

Would you like to help Cleveland Kids' Book Bank? Click HERE to donate or volunteer.

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