Literacy ConneXus News
December 28, 2011
Don't send money . . .

Books for the Border & Beyond LogoWe're looking for ideas. Like me, you probably have received many year-end appeals from not-for-profit organizations seeking funds. There is much need. At Literacy Connexus, we're looking for ideas.


We help churches help persons with literacy needs. Currently Books for the Border is at a critical stage. In the past five years more than 1,200 families have received bookcases and books through this home library collaborative. The connection between books in the home (literacy-rich environment) and success in school is clear. But there is more. We need your ideas to serve more families in 2012.


Family reading fairs have not only provided resources for reading for parents and children; these events have assisted in building bridges between local congregations and schools as well. In at least one setting, Books for the Border has been a key component in developing a local literacy coalition. As we move forward, we are focused on expansion of the project beyond the initial seven counties (See  Together for Hope) and evaluation of project impact. What differences have been experienced in the lives of families who have received these beginning home libraries?


Your ideas are needed. Please link to the Books for the Border planning guide on our website to consider specifics points; here are some of questions we are pondering:


 1.  It's been fun building bookcases--one of the most unique features of this project. Woodworking clubs and novices have had a hand. The bookcases are essential in establishing a beginning home library, but what about mass production? Several have suggested constructing kits that could be purchased and assembled. Should we provide both options? How might we keep the process personal and yet ramp up to scale?


2.  Books are obviously the main ingredient. We've enjoyed building relationships with the book providers noted in the planning guide. What suggestions do you have for additional sources of books?


Western Hills Book Depository
Western Hills Baptist Church
Book Depository

3.  Western Hills Baptist Church (Fort Worth) has a book depository designed specifically for Books for the Border. As individuals, churches, and other nonprofit organizations have donated books, volunteers have sorted the books. The books are ready for distribution in family reading fairs (at no cost). How might we replicate this in other communities?


4.  Evaluation is difficult but important. We have begun some simple efforts. In one area, families are given a new book in exchange for completing a simple (bilingual) survey about how they have used the books and bookcase in the past year. How would you approach evaluation?


5.  Partnerships are key. The basic connection is between at least one congregation and a group of families lacking books at home. Literacy Connexus is mainly Baptist-supported. We're also working with Lutheran and Methodist congregations. We partner with school districts, community centers, libraries and other groups. What connections would you suggest?


Boy decorating bookcase

6.  Books for the Border family reading fairs have been conducted along with other community projects. From rehabbing tornado-damaged homes and playground equipment to holding vacation Bible schools and health clinics, congregations have been busy strengthening local communities in a variety of ways. As the emphasis shifts to include communities away from the border, we're looking for creative connections. What comes to mind?


7.  And ideas about the scope of the project would be welcome, too. Congregations returning home from the border have looked in their own backyards and concluded, we've got families here with no books; what can we do?


This request is wide open. E-mail your ideas to Thanks for your gift of time.


Lester Meriwether, Literacy Connexus Executive Director   

Fort Worth, TX 

Lester Meriwether, Executive Director
4802 Hwy 377, Suite 14
Fort Worth, TX 76116
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Pam Moore, Editor