Marlene Zeiler, founder of Children Read — a nonprofit designed to collect new and gently-used pre-kindergarten, age-appropriate books for children throughout Atlanta — said she got the idea to start the organization after reading startling statistics about kids being ill-equipped for school due to a lack of books.
“I owned a bookstore for years and after selling it last June, I heard a National Public Radio story about a woman who had started a similar nonprofit in Oregon,” Zeiler said. “After doing research, I realized there was nothing quite like it in the Atlanta area and I wanted to help.”
Zeiler said statistics show that while middle-income children are read to by their parents an average of 1,200 hours before they start school, lower-income children are only read to an average of 25 hours before they begin kindergarten.
Zeiler started small by writing letters requesting books and sending them to neighbors and local businesses.
“Before long, I started to receive boxes of books at my doorstep,” she said.
After partnering up with Head Start Pre-school in Clarkston, Zeiler was able to donate about 92 bags filled with 460 books to 13 different schools in the area.
“We gave each student a bag with some books and included a note encouraging them to start their own libraries,” she said.
Now, Zeiler said her goal is to get the word out about the nonprofit and keep collecting books.
“I want to raise awareness about this issue and let families in Brookhaven know that if they have children’s books just laying around, those materials can be used to help improve our kids’ education,” she said.
The nonprofit has two book drop locations — Little Shop Of Stories, 133A E. Court Square in Decatur and Tall Tales Book Shop in the Toco Hills shopping center, 2105 Lavista Road in Atlanta.
The nonprofit is also in need of bags to pack books in as well as work tables and folding chairs.
Zeiler said volunteers will pick up books if a request is sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.