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Aysha Nasir Rao on Lantana’s milestone in donating 2,259 books this year through our A Book for a Book programme
As many Lantana customers will know, we run an initiative called A Book for a Book. This means that for every book that is purchased through our website, we donate a book to our charity partners. It’s our small way of ensuring that children who aren’t as lucky get access to inclusive bookshelves and, we hope, become lifelong readers, enjoying all the benefits reading has to offer.
And so we are thrilled to ring in the Giving Season with the announcement that we have donated 2,259 books to Bernie’s Book Bank, our charity partner in the USA. This brings the total number donated by our A Book for a Book programme to a whopping 3,259 books since we launched it on our 5th birthday in 2019! It’s been amazing to see that as Lantana has grown, so has our social impact - and it’s all thanks to YOUR support that we are able to champion reading and inclusion on a wider scale.
Since they opened their doors in 2009, the aim of Bernie’s Book Bank has been to ensure that children in under-served communities have access to the same quality literature their counterparts do. At their core is the fundamental idea that reading is the single most important skill a child needs in order to contribute and function competently within our society, and we completely agree. According to The Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development:
‘Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family circumstances, more than parents’ educational background or their income.’
In preparation of writing this piece I had a lovely email exchange with a few wonderful women at Bernie’s Book Bank who shed some more light on the charity’s work and history. I was blown away by the story of Dr. Bernard P. Floriani, the inspiration behind the charity, and his lasting influence on his community. Bernie, the son of a coal miner, grew up in a house without running water. Although he did not have much, he had many talents that gave him access to access to books and the opportunity for a good education. He made it into college through a basketball scholarship, where he not only achieved his bachelor’s, but also master’s and doctorate degrees in Reading Education. He spent the rest of his professional life promoting literacy.
The books Lantana donated, along with books they receive through book drives and other similar partnerships, go into one of their unique book bags, each one filled with six wonderful and exciting new and gently used books. The book bags are sent to their network of schools in the Chicagoland area, ready to be distributed to eager young readers and readers-to-be to help them build their home libraries of age-appropriate books. They also encourage children to share the love of reading by trading books with their friends.
Incredibly, this year they are on target to reach 20 MILLION books distributed since 2009! It is wonderful to know that our books are helping in their mission of embedding the love of reading in young children and are now a part of Bernie’s legacy.
The impact of inclusive stories
With the Christmas season upon us, I find myself reflecting on the work being done here at Lantana and what inclusive storytelling means for children, especially in these difficult times. When I was younger, the first book I remember having a lasting impact on me was J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit. For whatever reason I found myself being able to identify with characters in a book for the first time at the age of 11. I started reading a little later than most, and I distinctly remember hating reading before this point. But who knows how early my love of reading could have developed if I was reading stories with kids who looked like me. What if I could have celebrated my brown skin with the characters in I Am Brown or enjoyed my curls with Mira’s Curly Hair?
I truly believe the power of storytelling is immeasurable. While I'm sitting writing this blog entry in my room, to my left are my favourite quotes from The Hobbit printed and hung on my wall, which I look at daily. And as it was for me with The Hobbit, I’m excited to see the long-lasting impact of Lantana’s books on the next generation of readers. I’ll definitely be gifting a copy of I Am Brown to my nephew.
I feel incredibly fortunate that my first internship has been with such an inclusive publisher where I have learnt so much and been equally supported. Lantana highlights for me the very best of what this industry can achieve, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Thank you, Aysha! And we want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who’s supported us in getting to this milestone by purchasing our beautiful print books. We couldn’t have done it without you!
This giving season, shop small to make a big impact! Click HERE to give the gift of reading twice through our A Book for a Book programme.
Aysha is a lifelong bookworm and has always loved the way stories act to unite and illuminate the world around us. She recently joined Lantana as a Marketing and Research Intern in July and is a student from Manchester currently studying History at King's College London.