With schoolchildren at home for the rest of the semester, and summer
looming, parents can be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed. Literacy Mid-South (LMS) is
offering parents of all students the chance to take a break to read new books with their children,
and giving Memphians a way to support local learners through a COVID-19 Book Drive.
LMS is giving away an initial 2,500 books in partnership with Shelby County Schools, YMCA of
Memphis & the Mid-South, and the City of Memphis. The YMCA is distributing free meals to
students of Shelby County Schools at YMCA locations and City of Memphis Community
Centers. The books are brand new, purchased from First Book, a discount bulk bookseller.
Books are shipped directly to select Shelby County Schools meal distribution centers to reduce
contact. Families picking up meals provided by the YMCA can pick up one book per child at the
The books will be available on May 5, 2020 at the following meal distribution locations:
The books are at a K-8 reading level and focus on children of diverse backgrounds. A wide
variety of titles include 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid,' 'Pass the Ball, Mo!,' 'Monsters Go Night-Night,' and
'Enginerds.' Book titles will be distributed based on the grade level indicated for the student.
Literacy Mid-South will also provide books to community partners who are finding new ways to
provide assistance during the health crisis. Red Door Urban Missions, For The Kingdom, and
Refugee Empowerment Program are currently providing meals, lessons, and other resources to
their communities. The three non-profits will distribute additional books from LMS along with
meals to families in the communities that they traditionally serve.
“Education is of course important, and there are so many tips and tricks available to parents
who are juggling homeschooling with everything else that must be done in a day,” says Knox
Shelton, Executive Director for Literacy Mid-South. “We recognize that parents may feel the
stress of coping with children at home, so we want to emphasize the importance of slowing
down, reading a book with your kid, and making lasting family memories in the midst of this
difficult moment in time.”
LMS is asking for community support by making donations to purchase at-home family libraries
while schools are closed.
“The YMCA and our partners are committed to educational support for children in our
community and we are excited that Literacy Mid-South will be able get books in the hands of
children and get them reading while they are out of school,” said Jerry Martin, President & CEO
of YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South. “Thanks to the vision set by Shelby County Schools and
the aid of our partner organizations, we have distributed over 170,000 meals with capacity to
serve 2 million meals this summer. Being able to provide them with a book is no doubt an added
asset to the program. We would like to add our encouragement to Memphians to donate to the
Literacy Mid-South book drive to make sure that we can continue to provide books to children
through this program!”
To donate to the ongoing book drive, visit the LMS giving page by clicking here.
“With everything happening around us, the gift of reading is even more important for our young
people,” Mayor Jim Strickland said. “The ability to read is critical for so many things in our lives
and can give us the ability to transform the world around us into a magical place through words
written on a page. We’re happy to partner with Literacy Mid-South and the YMCA to make this