One of the biggest influences in the lives of my brothers and I growing up was books. Our dad loved books – buying them, reading them and just being surrounded by them. When he ran out of shelf room in his office, he built more in the basement to house his literary treasures. He left behind thousands of books when he passed away. When my brother cleaned out his car, he found dozens that never made it into the house. I found over a dozen myself when I finally faced the unfortunate task of taking over ownership of his precious truck.
That love of reading was passed down to me. I couldn’t sit at the table for a meal and not read something, be it the newspaper, a pamphlet or the back, sides and bottom of a cereal box. I recall grabbing the atlas on our multiple road trips across the country just so I could have something to read and if a museum had a plaque describing the display, you can bet that I would stand there and read every word.
Staring at the thousands of books lining the walls of my parents’ house shortly after my dad’s death, it occurred to me that books would be a great way to help keep his legacy alive. After reaching out to a few of my friends who are educators, I decided to start Bob’s Books.
“Because no matter the circumstance, children deserve access to great books and a quality education.”
The mantra that will drive the direction of “Bob’s Books” is simple and to the point. It’s not meant to be prophetic, awe-inspiring or life changing but rather to help set a direction, an end goal to focus on: “Because no matter the circumstance, children deserve access to great books and a quality education.”
The “access to great books” goal will be achieved through the promotion of reading among school-aged kids, primarily 12 and under but all the way up through high school as needed, by putting unique and award-winning books in classroom libraries. Schools generally have access to hundreds of books for their classrooms. I’ve quickly figured out, however, that the vast majority of these books are the same ones you find in every school, thereby resulting in kids reading the same stories and developing the same points of view year after year. By focusing on unique and award-winning books, we can give kids the opportunity to read quality literature with differing takes on character-developing stories that they might not normally be exposed to.
“Quality Education” comes into the equation to help meet the need for material support in the classroom. Schools face cuts to their funding every year while teachers live with the reality of insufficient salaries. Teachers are often left with the burden of reaching into their own pockets to fill the classroom gap left by budget cuts. By reaching out to teachers, especially new ones who already start out as the lowest paid with the smallest resources, to find out what they need material-wise to do their job in the best manner possible, we can help promote a classroom where the focus is on providing a quality education instead of worrying about how to fund the next lesson plan.
I don’t know what “Bob’s Books” will lead to in the future, whether it continues as a small self-funded project, a community-backed resource or it becomes a nonprofit corporation (the ultimate goal). I do know that it is allowing me to channel the emotions from my dad’s untimely and unfortunate death into something positive and right now, that’s good enough for me.