Action Book Clubs across the country are combining reading with community service—and having fun along the way! In this series, we’re highlighting some of our favorite reading groups. To find out how you can start an Action Book Club of your own visit the program’s web page.
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Good Read: The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich
Good Deed: Children’s book drive and giveaway
This mother-daughter Action Book Club is bringing books to underserved areas in Albuquerque—despite a hiccup or two—taking inspiration from their backgrounds as educators. Becky Conner is a retired teacher and her daughter is a community college faculty member.
“We wanted to help the community and promote literacy and a love of reading,” said Becky. “Our hope was to put books in the hands of children. Book ownership is important!
“We had the idea to gather as many children’s books as possible and give them away at the free lunch program at our neighborhood park.”
But 2020 had something else in mind: The pandemic shut down the free lunch program. Becky and her daughter quickly pivoted and were able to find a different way to get books into kids’ hands.
“We weren’t willing to give up!” said Becky. “As an alternate activity we have delivered books to an underserved area of our city three times and donated them to another Little Free Library location. We are currently gathering books for either another donation drop off, or back to our original idea of giving them away at the free lunch program when it returns.”
Even their own reading plans had a snag: “We chose The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich as our book club selection because we are huge fans of her novels,” said Becky. “We also had tickets to see her and attend her book talk promoting the book in our city. However, once again the pandemic created a wrinkle for us. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic Ms. Erdrich had to cancel her book tour and return home. Silver lining…we loved the book!”
Literacy and book access is a family affair for Becky beyond the Action Book Club. She has a Little Free Library in her front yard (pictured above), with another one on its way.
“My husband is currently building a second library for my Christmas gift, and we plan to fill it with children’s books. With schools and libraries closed in this area, we’re hoping to fill a real need during the pandemic.
“[My three-year-old grandson] also loves books and can hardly wait for his Papa to finish the new kids’ library. My mother and sister have donated books to our book drives, so it really is a family project spanning four generations!”