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  • Writer's pictureGinger Young

Books — and Hope — in a Box

Literacy — the ability to read — is an elemental civil right that has not been extended to all among us. This horrifies me. I want to do everything in my power to make sure that every single child feasts at the bounty of words, stories, and ideas, and that every parent — regardless of circumstances — has the tools to make that flourishing possible.


Here at Book Harvest, we have quietly been building a program over the past 15 months that aspires to do that, transcending miles, and walls, and more inequities than I can comprehend.


Box of books.

This program is called Books in a Box, and it is simple: we work with children

experiencing the profound circumstance of a parent’s incarceration by delivering free boxes of new books directly to them at home. Tucked in the box is a

handwritten letter from their incarcerated parent, brimming with love, encouragement, and hope. 


Children enrolled in Books in a Box receive a home library of 20 brand new books, sent as two shipments of 10 books each. This program has thus far reached 81 children with 870 books (and counting!) across eight states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, Montana, Missouri, and California. 


To my knowledge, this emergent program is unique in our country, and I would be remiss if I did not give a giant shoutout to those with whom we partner to deliver it: 


Melissa Radcliff at Our Children’s Place of Coastal Horizons has been our essential collaborator on this program — teaching us, guiding us, and providing us with invitations to family visit days. (Did you know that there are more than 20,000 children with an incarcerated parent in North Carolina? That nationally five million children are experiencing the effects of an incarcerated parent? Thank you, Melissa, for sharing these truths.)


The team at Motheread/Fatheread does the essential work of enrolling families and extending to parents the warm invitation to write letters to their children. 


And our own Perry Robinson has built this program from a mere idea into

something I am deeply proud of. Along the way, Perry has made countless phone calls to caregivers, assembled and mailed 87 boxes, and so much more — always with the utmost care, thoughtfulness, and sensitivity. 


Feedback from parents speaks to the connection being forged via books and across barriers. Among them: 


I hope the books teach my kids life lessons and for them to know that I will always be there and support them. 


I hope he gets to enjoy the satisfaction of receiving and reading the books. And that it changes his outlook on things in life.


Literacy is a basic civil right. And maybe, just maybe, it need not be thwarted by the generational effects of incarceration. Thank you for believing in our work — and in the deep love within families that, despite circumstances, can forge a culture of literacy that reaches every child. I would love to hear what you think. 


Ginger Young

Found & CEO






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