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Supporting Austin Sunshine Camp

By Fundraising, General, What's Happening

This summer, Book Drive for Kids Austin is serving 500 foster care and at-risk youth in the Austin area by giving them free books.  Children in foster care typically lack access to books, with parents not being able to take them to the library or buy them books for summer reading. To bridge this gap, we host free book fairs at several summer events, ensuring that they have access to a good book and hopefully prevent the summer slide.

Last week, we kicked off our summer efforts by hosting a free outdoor book fair at Zilker Park during the Austin Sunshine Camp kickoff event. We braved the Texas heat and distributed 173 brand-new books to campers! Each camper was able to select a book to bring to camp and read during quiet time that can spark a love for reading that will last a lifetime.

Upcoming Summer Events

The Austin Chapter of Book Drive for Kids has three more exciting events planned this summer:

These events are expected to serve 500 students, offering the gift of literacy and the joy of owning their very own book. Books open doors to new worlds, foster a love for reading, and contribute to the educational success of foster care and at-risk youth.

How You Can Help

If you have a heart for foster care youth and believe in the power of books, we invite you to support our cause. Here’s how you can make a difference:

  • Donate Books: Visit our Amazon Wish List and purchase a book. Each book bought will go directly to a child in need, providing them with the tools to succeed academically.
  • Monetary Donations: Contributions of any size are greatly appreciated and go a long way in helping us reach more children. Your donation will be used to purchase new books and cover the costs of our free book fairs.

Your generosity can make a lasting impact on a child’s life. With your help, we can continue to bring the joy of reading to children who need it most. Thank you for supporting our mission and making a difference in the lives of foster care youth.

Volunteer Highlight – Elise Phillips

By General, What's Happening

When the Ferguson Road Initiative approached us about bringing free book fairs to the elementary schools in Far East Dallas, we were excited BUT we knew we would need more volunteers.  They sent out the call and one of the sweetest ladies we have ever met responded. Elise Phillips, a retiree and active volunteer in local Dallas ISD schools as well as other organizations, volunteered for our first event two years ago. She was hooked! Since then, everytime we are in her community, she shares her warm smile and kind words with the kids.

BDK:  Tell us a little about yourself. Where you live, your family, work, hobbies? What is something your friends love about you? 

Elise: I live in Dallas, I am retired, I love to crochet and volunteer for causes that impact my community.  I think my friends like the fact that they can count on me to do what I say I will do. 

BDK: Yes! We DO count on you! How did you find BDK? 

Elise: Book Drive for Kids was featured in the Ferguson Road Initiative Newsletter looking for volunteers to help with the book drives in the area they service.

BDK: What keeps you volunteering so regularly?  

Elise: Kids need to learn to read.  Good reading skills take practice and these children love the fact that they can take home books of their very own. 

BDK: What is one word that sums up a Book Drive for Kids free book fair?  

Elise: Happy 

BDK: Do you feel like you are making a difference? 

Elise: I hope so.  The children are so grateful each year that they get to participate in the book drives. 

BDK: What would you say to someone considering volunteering with us? 

Elise: Volunteers are needed in so many areas and you get so much satisfaction watching the children pick out books that they are interested in and will read.

In Memoriam – James Cook

By General

James E. Cook

October 9, 1938 – May 15, 2024

James Cook was a scientist, an innovator, a funny guy, and my dear father-in-law for over 30 years. When Chuck took me out to dinner with his parents for the first time, I was not yet sure about Chuck BUT I was sure that James & Jerri Cook were the type of people I wanted as in-laws. They both loved and laughed freely. They accepted me as a daughter. 

When Book Drive for Kids was an idea and a scary venture to me, James gave us $1,000 to open our first bank account. He always believed the best in people and generously gave to good causes! He was a big fan of kids reading because he read the encyclopedia when he was a kid. Over the years, he continued to give to Book Drive for Kids with his pocketbook and his encouragement.

Thank you, James, for believing in us and giving generously of yourself and your talents!

We miss you so much already!

Let’s Read: Beat the Heat

By General, What's Happening

On a hot summer day, whether at the beach or in a cozy La-Z-Boy® recliner, nothing beats escaping into the pages of a great book! For the kids, all the required reading of school assignments is completed and now is the time to read for fun! 

But what if you don’t have access to fun adventures, silly stories, or National Geographic animal books?  What if your parents work two jobs and there’s no time left for a trip to the library?  What if you don’t have transportation to a public library?

School is out and so is your access to books.

Our solution: books at home!

Thanks to CBS Texas and La-Z-Boy, a lot more children across DFW are going to have the opportunity to have books at home! Over 3,500 books were donated at La-Z-Boy® stores in May, including a 500 book donation from Nickelodeon.  These donations will be used at Book Drive for Kids summer book giveaways and free book fairs. We are excited about finding new homes for these great books.

We are so grateful to La-Z-Boy® and CBS Texas for this opportunity! CBS Texas reporters Nicole Baker and Lauren Crawford are two of the kindest and easiest people to talk to. Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to advocate for the importance of books and families reading together.  

Volunteer Highlight – Jessica Torres-Cano

By General, What's Happening

Volunteer Highlight

Since September of 2022, Jessica has logged almost 60 volunteer hours while working full-time for United Healthcare. She is a bundle of energy and shares her enthusiasm for books at our free book fairs.

BDK: Tell us a little about yourself. Where you live, your family, work, hobbies? What is something your friends love about you?

Jessica: I live in Carrollton with my husband Felix. Between the both of us we have 5 young adults and 7 cats! I love spending time with family, watching movies (especially anything Star Wars), dancing, and of course, READING!

BDK: How did you find Book Drive for Kids?

Jessica: I found you through my company’s volunteer portal. When the company started a volunteer drive, I wanted to find a way to do my volunteer hours that fell in line with my love of reading, Book Drive for Kids was the perfect match!

BDK: What keeps you volunteering so regularly?

Jessica: I feel that reading is truly the key to a great future for anyone. Hearing a kid say that they don’t like to read and then helping them find a book that they get excited about gives me unmeasurable joy. I believe that deep down everyone is a reader, they just have to find that book that speaks to THEM!

BDK: What is one word that sums up a Book Drive for Kids’ free book fair?

Jessica: Inspiring.

BDK: Do you feel like you are making a difference?

Jessica: I really do! As a child, I remember being so very excited for the school book fair but knowing that I would not be able to get the books I wanted due to finances. Seeing every child walk away with a book from a Book Drive for Kids free book fair, no matter their family’s economic background, sets them and their families on a course of literary adventure.

BDK: What would you say to someone considering volunteering?

Jessica: DO NOT HESITATE! You may walk away tired but you will feel so privileged to be able to help those kids find out that reading for pleasure is a possibility!

Austin Highlight – Brooke Terry

By General, What's Happening

Volunteer Highlight

When Book Drive for Kids first began in 2017, Brooke Terry lived in Flower Mound with her husband and two boys. She was one of our very first volunteers. Shortly thereafter, the family moved to Austin. Fast forward to 2021. We had friends who invited us to bring a free book fair to their small elementary school. Immediately, I thought of Brooke!

After that first event, Brooke wanted to be more involved with getting books into the hearts and homes of disadvantaged children, especially children in foster care.  She soon embarked on a volunteer position of Director of the Austin chapter of Book Drive for Kids.  In coming newsletters, we will keep you informed on what’s happening in Austin but first, we want you to meet the woman behind the scenes.

We caught up with Brooke and here’s what she has to say:

BDK:  Tell us a little about yourself. Where you live, your family, work, hobbies? What is something your friends love about you? 

Brooke: Thomas and I have been married for twenty years and have two boys. My hobbies are reading, bible study, hiking, and traveling. Historical fiction is my favorite genre. My friends would say that I am loyal and dependable.

BDK: Why did you originally get involved with Book Drive for Kids?

Brooke: I LOVE reading books and I want kids to LOVE reading books too.

BDK:  Volunteering to direct multiple events in another city is a pretty serious commitment! Can you tell us what motivates you?

Brooke: As I delved into the research, I discovered that many low-income families do not have any children’s books at home. The Literacy Project finds a stark disparity in book ownership between low-income families (1 book for every 300 children) and affluent families (13 books per child). This gap is a driving force behind our program. 

My passion is to give away fun and engaging books to children so that children fall in love with reading.

BDK: In a single word, how would you describe a Book Drive for Kids Free Book Fair? 

Brooke: Rewarding!

BDK: What is the greatest challenge for you here in Austin? 

Brooke: Time. There is never enough time to meet all the needs in our community.


By General, What's Happening


Barnes & Noble Christmas Book Drive – Frisco

First Free Book Fair with the State Fair of Texas Foundation at J.J.Rhoads Learning Center in Dallas

Journey to Dream’s Shop with a Cop

LovePacs November – Christmas distribution

Angel Tree – Vickery Elementary

Single Parent Advocate Christmas

Most Wonderful Time of the Year

By General, What's Happening

These words serenade us as we hurriedly drive to Black Friday sales, school recitals, and holiday parties. They croon in our living rooms as we decorate our Christmas tree. We hum them in the midst of the baking, shopping, traffic, and crammed schedules. It’s easy to begin to wonder, Is it REALLY the most wonderful time of the year?

Yesterday, in the midst of back-to-back book fair events shepherding hundreds of children through tables filled with lovely books, it WAS the most wonderful time of year! I did not experience it in the perfect gift or decoration or even in the hustle and bustle of children dressed in holiday gear. I found it in a shared smile, a funny comment, a genuine question, and a moment of real listening to another.  These brief moments of shared humanity brought a genuine smile to my face. As the hurriedness was set aside, we entered a moment of “seeing” each other with full attention.  These simple interactions that lasted only 30 seconds filled my heart, making this the most wonderful time of the year.  

The Christmas season is my favorite time of the year. I love the decorations, the baking, the songs, and the gift-giving; however, it is so easy to feel the stress and forget the actual purpose of all the activities. Christmas is a holy-day (holiday) to celebrate the greatest gift of all time, Jesus. He embraced humanity and regularly connected one-on-one to give the greatest gift – love. “We love because He first loved us” (I John 4:9) is a foundational principle of Book Drive for Kids. When we are tired, it is this truth that provides the “Why” to all our effort. We are rewarded in these simple exchanges of love – an excited whoop, a shy smile, or a warm heart.


May you experience a truly Wonderful Time of the Year!!


For more information about conducting your own book donation drive or volunteering with Book Drive for Kids, visit their website at HOME – Book Drive for Kids or email [email protected].

Volunteer Highlight – Donna Esposito

By General, What's Happening

Volunteer Highlight

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. – Helen Keller

 During the summer of 2020, as Donna Esposito was moving to Flower Mound, she came across an abundance of books her children had accumulated over the years.  With her kids grown and flown, Donna decided, “It’s time to sort and share!”  When she googled where to donate books in the area, Book Drive for Kids popped up. (We are so thankful!)  Soon we came by to pick up her donation of TEN BOXES of new and gently used books, and a relationship was born.  

Once Donna discovered our mission was to get books into the hearts and homes of disadvantaged children, she wanted to get involved.  She understood the importance of books and fostering the love of reading in children; she had encouraged these values in her own home.  Now she had the opportunity to do the same for children who did not have books readily available to them. 

Today Donna is a regular volunteer and supporter. Here’s what she has to say:

BDK: What keeps you volunteering so regularly?  

Donna: “I really enjoy volunteering! Seeing the happy, smiling faces of all the kids who are so excited to have a new book of their own is heartwarming!

BDK: What is one word that sums up a Book Drive for Kids free book fair?  


BDK: Do you feel like you are making a difference? 

Donna: “I’d like to believe that I make a small impact by assisting with the book fairs with an encouraging and enthusiastic demeanor to share the joy that reading can bring.”

BDK: What would you say to someone considering volunteering with us?  

Donna:“Do it! Reading is so important to foster in children of all ages.”

Without the consistent, joyful help of volunteers, Book Drive for Kids would not have been able to give away over 50,000 books this past year. 

Thank you, Donna, for the servant’s heart you bring to Book Drive for Kids.  The smiles and love you share allows these children to know they are seen and valued.

Yes, Book Drive for Kids wants to get books to children in need, but more importantly, we want to share hope for a future full of potential and purpose. It’s because of volunteers like Donna that Book Drive for Kids continues to be invited to host free book fairs. Join Donna in helping change a child’s life, one book at a time.

FMWIB Book Donation Drive & NY Life Grant

By General, In the News

New York Life and local non-profit Flower Mound Women in Business spearheaded the month-long initiative.

LEWISVILLE, TX (August 8, 2023) — Book Drive for Kids, a Denton County-based non-profit that partners with community organizations and Title I schools to get books into the hearts and homes of needy children, is excited to announce that it was recently presented with 2,600 books from a community book donation spearheaded by fellow non-profit Flower Mound Women in Business. Several New York Life agents in the Dallas-Fort Worth area also contributed a matching donation of $1,692.

The event was held in June and is the largest community book donation Book Drive for Kids has benefited from since its inception in 2017.

“We are overwhelmed with gratitude for this tremendous support from our local community,” said Michelle Cook, Book Drive for Kids’ Co-Founder and Executive Director. “This gift will bring so many smiles. Thank you to Flower Mound Women in Business and New York Life for making the magic happen — giving books to inspire creativity, laughter, and hope.”

Cook said the initiative wouldn’t have happened without the generosity and out-of-the-box thinking of Flower Mound Women in Business, a non-profit organization with over 4,000 members dedicated to inspiring and empowering women entrepreneurs to live their best lives and give back to the communities where they live and serve. Founder and President Christi Beca and Vice President Amanda Bennett challenged their membership to place book donation boxes at several prominent Denton County businesses. A few of those locations included 214 Dental, Clink Wine Bar & Bites, Cryo Clinic Wellness Center, and Awesome Times.

Local author Carrie Simpson donated a class set of her inspiring children’s book, O! I Swallowed a Seed! The Lewisville Police Department also heard about the initiative and made a significant book donation. Local New York Life agent Lois Kim, also a Flower Mound Women in Business member, enlisted several of her colleagues to match the book gifts with a combined monetary donation of $1,692.

“Flower Mound Women in Business is honored to support Book Drive for Kids, as they are a wonderful organization that supports our youth,” Bennett said. “Michelle Cook is a member of FMWIB and works hard to share her passion through BDK. We always want to support her and other women entrepreneurs in their mission to help as many as possible. We are beyond blessed to have the support within our community and our organization to truly make this happen. We are grateful to have been a part of BDK and are excited to see the impact on many children and families that have been a part of this organization.”

More About Book Drive for Kids

Cook said the latest haul in donations helps further the organization’s efforts statewide as the demand for more intervention continues to grow. The organization has interacted with nearly 20,000 children at free book fairs this school year alone. Since 2017, they’ve donated over 150,000 books to nearly 66,000 students at nearly 100 events in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. And their reach extends to places like Austin, Houston, and South Texas. Book Drive for Kids’ goal is to create a culture of literacy by providing books to disadvantaged children for independent reading. There is no cost to the kids or their families, just an opportunity to read for pleasure and personal fulfillment.

Independent reading is not tested, chosen by the reader, and done for pleasure or personal fulfillment. And studies suggest that independent readers become better readers, score higher on achievement tests in all subject areas, and have greater content knowledge than those who do not. Independent reading may be conducted at school during a silent sustained reading (SSR) period, at home, in the car, or between classes, and even as little as 10 minutes of reading a day has a significant effect on reading test scores.

The organization began in 2017 thanks to Cook and fellow co-founder, Nicol Klingenstein. With a few hundred used books, they offered a teacher friend the opportunity to host a free book fair at her school, where 90% of the kids were economically disadvantaged. The response went through the roof, leading to even more events in the years to come.

For more information, including ways to donate and volunteer, visit

Please direct all media inquiries to:
Michelle Cook, Book Drive for Kids
[email protected]