Literacy Mid-South Announces COVID-19 Book Drive


MEMPHIS, TN (May 1, 2020) – 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 same time.

The books will be available on May 5, 2020 at the following meal distribution locations: 

  • Douglass, 1616 Ash, 38108
  • Ed Rice, 2907 N. Watkins, 38127
  • Gaisman, 4221 Macon, 38122
  • Hickory Hill, 3910 Ridgeway Rd., 38115
  • McFarland, 4955 Cottonwood, 38118
  • Davis Family YMCA, 4727 Elvis Presley Blvd., 38116

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 KidPass the BallMo!, 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 website 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 happen.”


The mission of Literacy Mid-South is to provide literacy resources to learners of all backgrounds and ages, to help them achieve the critical literacy skills they need to navigate the world. The organization serves all of the Mid-South, from adults to children. Find out more at the Literacy Mid-South website.

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