Action Book Club Stories

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When Action Book Club members share their experiences, they inspire others to spark positive change in their own neighborhoods. Here are a few of our favorite stories of how Action Book Clubs are turning good reads into good deeds!

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Good Read: The Nightwatchman by Louise Erdrich

Good Deed: Children’s book drive and giveaway

Project Details (click to learn more)

This mother-daughter Action Book Club is bringing books to underserved areas in Albuquerque, taking inspiration from their backgrounds as educators. Becky Conner is a retired teacher and her daughter is a community college faculty member. (They’re pictured with Becky’s Little Free Library above.) 

“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.

Read more about this Action Book Club and their service project!

Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada

Good ReadA Whale in Paris by Claire Polders and Daniel Presley

Good Deed: Making bookmarks for veterans

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When this sixth-grade Action Book Club read A Whale in Paris, which takes place during World War II, they decided they wanted to make something special for veterans.

“They created lovely bookmarks and cards which I dropped off at a local Seniors Centre (with the site’s permission),” says club organizer Kerry Schwenneker. “I was told that after quarantining the creations, they were given out to seniors. Due to COVID-19 they were extra happy to be remembered and honoured. Win-win for students and seniors!” 

Read more about this Action Book Club and the other bookish service project they completed (pictured above) to help their sister school in Nicaragua!

Columbia, South Carolina

Good Read: Far from the Tree by Robin Benway

Good Deed: Donating art supplies to residents of temporary housing 

Project Details (click to learn more)

Project Details (click to learn more)

A summer of reading can also be a summer of service, as this South Carolina Action Book Club demonstrates.

“We joined because we loved the idea of having a book club that focused not just on reading for pleasure, but also on serving our community,” says club member Angel Sbardella.

The group’s goal for their service project was to directly impact children and families in their area. To that end, they decided to collect goods for families living in a local temporary-housing village.

Housing staff requested art supplies, and this Action Book Club delivered! Because the art supplies were directly requested, club members knew the items would be welcomed and the children who lived there would enjoy them throughout their summer break.

This club’s action is a great reminder that when you’re looking for a project, asking local service organizations what they need can be an excellent place to start!

Cleveland, Ohio

Good Read: Look Where We Live! A First Book of Community Building by Scot Ritchie

Good Deed: Starting a school recycling program

Project Details (click to learn more)

This third-grade classroom at Bolton Elementary School in Cleveland, Ohio, was one of the first groups to sign up to become an Action Book Club. Led by teacher Robin Palmore, the entire class read copies of the book Look Where We Live! A First Book of Community Building, which were generously donated by a local TV station.

The class then looked for a project that would improve their school and benefit the surrounding community. They decided to implement the school’s first-ever recycling program.

“After walking around the school, taking inventory, and asking questions, we noticed a lot of waste of resources in our school. We found out that our school does not have a recycling program,” says Mrs. Palmore. “We signed up at Pepsico Recycling and began to recycle water bottles. We set a goal from now until the end of April for 15,000 bottles.”

Learn more about their project (and read a note from author Scot Ritchie!) here.

Grand Coteau, Louisiana

Good Read: Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña

Good Deed: Collecting new socks for those in need

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In Louisiana, Alysson Foti Bourque led an Action Book Club for elementary students in pre-K through 4th grade at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. They collected more than 100 pairs of new socks for a homeless shelter and a center for abused women. (Since it happened in October, they called their project “Socktober”!)

“This was such a rewarding experience where we all had an important part of the ‘action,’” says Alysson, herself a children’s book author. “All the kids worked together to help the community in need, and the shelters were so thankful for the kind gesture.”

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Good Read: One Hundred Shadows by Hwang Jungeun

Good Deed: Volunteering for a city bike patrol program

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Joining the Action Book Club is a great way for existing book clubs to give back to the community. This book club, which had already been running for two years, volunteered for the Midtown Greenway Bike Trail patrol program, which monitors a five-mile long urban bike trail that cuts through many neighborhoods in Minneapolis.

“By keeping eyes on the bike trail, we’re helping ensure the safety of other trail users and neighborhood residents. It is a great way to be a Minneapolis ‘good neighbor,’” say Sage Dahlen and Will Wlizlo, the founding members of their club.

Park City, Utah

Good Read: Various books celebrating good neighbors

Good Deed: Planting spring flower bulbs

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At the Park City public library, you can get a book and an “action bag” to go! The library is engaging their patrons with a community-wide Action Book Club that provides a new take-away activity each month.

“We found that the Action Book Club has been a great way to create community while we are apart during Covid!” said adult-services librarian Kate Mapp.

For their October Action Book Club project, participants are invited to pick up an activity bag of spring flower bulbs, with instructions to plant the bulbs in their own yards or a neighbor’s yard (with permission) so beautiful blooms will appear in the spring. In November, the activity bag will include stationary, so Action Book Club members can write appreciation letters to their neighbors.

Read more about this Action Book Club and their to-go service projects!

Somewhere, Missouri

Good Read: Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

Good Deed: Donating books, food, and more to Little Free Libraries

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A family Action Book Club in Missouri is making a difference by sharing food, books, and other essentials in Little Free Libraries when they’re out walking their dog. The four-member club is made up of mom, dad, sister (15), and brother (13)—plus their beloved dog, of course! The mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, had this to say about their experience:

“In our walking we have met some people who are homeless, and the boxes are a safe place for us to leave them helpful items such as food or a Snuggie, etc. During our quarantine time we have gone through and sorted some items into packets, such as info about Little Free Library’s Action Book Club, chalkboard/chalk, some card games and puzzles, and some workbooks and reading books.

“We have found that the workbooks disappear fast. We are guessing that this might be because parents are wanting something hands-on, so their kiddos can learn without having to do everything online.” 

Brooklyn, New York and Worldwide

Good Read: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Good Deed: Book-related kindnesses around the globe

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Don’t let COVID-19 keep you from connecting with your book club! This Action Book Club meets virtually, then members—located across the globe—each carry out an act of kindness in their own community.

“Our book club is a bit unique,” said organizer Sophia Becker, who is based in Brooklyn, New York. “We actually ‘meet’ at a certain time and date from all over the world in an online group chat. We decided to spread our love of books in each of our own communities. Each of us found a Little Free Library or a place to donate books nearby.”

Members of this group come from a variety of locations, from Los Angeles and New York to West Germany and Canada.  

“It’s been so great getting to know everyone through our chats!” said Sophia. “We’ve definitely become a sisterhood even though most of us have never met each other in real life.”

Read their full story here!

Sylvan Lake, Alberta, Canada

Good Read: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

Good Deed: Volunteering to cook at Ronald McDonald House of Central Alberta

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“As soon as I heard about Little Free Library’s Action Book Club program, I knew the ladies in my book club would love the idea, because they all have such big hearts!” says Candice Putnam.

After reading a good book together, Candice and her fellow Action Book Club members decided to volunteer at a Ronald McDonald House—a “home away from home” for families of children receiving vital medical care at the Red Deer Regional Hospital in Alberta.

“Volunteering for this program involves planning a meal, purchasing the ingredients, and cooking everything on site for families staying at the house,” Candice says.

“We even got to sit down and enjoy the meal with everyone! It was a blast, and it was truly heartwarming to hear how much each and every person appreciated our group’s efforts and those of the countless other volunteers who cook at the Ronald McDonald House on a regular basis.

“For these families, who are spending long days at the hospital with their children, simple things like a delicious, home-cooked meal can make all the difference. This was our first time volunteering for RMH’s ‘Home for Dinner’ program as a group, but it definitely won’t be our last!”

The hardest part of their task, says Candice, was deciding what to put on the menu. Final decision: Ribs!

Las Vegas, Nevada

Good Read: Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie

Good Deed: Painting “kindness rocks”

Project Details (click to learn more)

In Las Vegas, Terina Chinn and her children formed an Action Book Club of four. Their small but mighty group chose a simple project packed with heart: They painted “kindness rocks” for their diverse neighborhood.

Kindness rocks are smooth stones that are painted with uplifting messages then left in random places for others to find. The goal is to brighten someone’s day and inspire them to spread kindness, too.

“I chose this activity because it was doable, especially having a three-year-old in the group,” says Terina. “We found some rocks in our neighborhood and painted them at my house after reading the book and discussing the differences between our family and others.”

This Action Book Club is a fantastic example of how small deeds have the potential for big impact. Each rock they leave for someone to find helps create a ripple effect of positivity.  

Terina has some great advice: “Start small if you’re unsure where to begin. There’s nothing wrong with doing something you’re comfortable with before trying bigger things.”

Sugar Land, Texas

Good Read: Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Good Deed: Book drive to support school libraries affected by Hurricane Harvey

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Belén Kennedy helped her daughter’s summer book club become an Action Book Club to “teach them to look outward and to help others,” she says.

The group decided to hold a book drive to help refill the school libraries and classroom libraries that were damaged by Hurricane Harvey. “We chose this activity because we knew that several schools in surrounding cities were very much in need of replacing supplies after flooding,” says Belén.

They set up the book drive in front of their local elementary school, so people could easily drive through and drop off books. While the group was concerned that they wouldn’t collect a significant number, since they planned the activity only three days in advance, it was a smashing success—they received more than 2,500 books!

Because they received so many generous donations, they were able to give books to several schools and organizations, including Books Between Kids, the Literacy Council of Fort Bend County, and a resale store that supports the Fort Bend Women’s Center.

Belén offers this advice to other Action Book Clubs made up of kids or teens: “Choose a community activity that they can connect to and/or that has meaning to them.”

Oxford, Michigan

Good Read: What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City by Mona Hanna-Attisha

Good Deed: Donating books to a local medical center in Flint

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Only 1 in 300 children in the city of Flint, Michigan, has a book of their own. This startling statistic inspired an Action Book Club in nearby Oxford to do what they could to help.

“This spoke straight to our hearts and we took action to find books to donate to Hurley Children’s Hospital in Flint,” says Action Book Club member Jane Saxon. 

Learn more about this Action Book Club and the special visit they got from a local author! 

Ooltewah, Tennessee

Good Read: The Leavers by Lisa Ko

Good Deed: Collecting toiletries for people in need

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Action Book Clubs aren’t one size fits all: They’re adaptable to any location, for any type of group, at any age level. An adult Action Book Club in rural Ooltewah, Tennessee, is a great example of how multi-age clubs work well together.

They read The Leavers by Lisa Ko then decided to donate toiletries to a local organization that distributes to needy community members and homeless shelters. This activity was a good match for their particular club, which has members spanning several generations.

“We have many older, retired members in our book club, so hands-on volunteering activities were not an option,” says member Nikki Johnson. “We decided collecting items was best suited to our membership.”

Nikki offers this advice for other Action Book Clubs: “Chose what meets a need for your local community as well as what your book club members can participate in effectively.”

Mooresville, North Carolina

Good Read: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Good Deed: Volunteering with Hands On Charlotte

Project Details (click to learn more)

In urban Mooresville, North Carolina, teachers and students joined the Action Book Club in an effort to “be the change.”

“I have always been a Little Free Library fan, and through following their Twitter account, I found the opportunity to join the club,” says group leader Adam Bitters. “As a teacher, I found the club to be a timely and necessary way to teach students about other ideas and perspectives. We are a growing club that has joined with and encouraged other nearby schools to start ABC’s of their own. By joining forces, we want to be the change in our area of Charlotte and the greater area.”

“I believe that one book can change one student at a time and through the ABC initiative, we can unite readers and the surrounding community in one cause—to serve those in need of being served,” he says.

The Mooresville Action Book Club read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and were inspired to volunteer with local group Hands On Charlotte, creating no-sew blankets for newborns, stuffing information kits for the Red Cross, making bookmarks to encourage literacy, and more. “The love and spirit of giving was palpable as we focused on serving those in need,” says Bitters.

Potomac, Maryland

Good Read: Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt

Good Deed: Making cards and snacks for kids in need

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A dedicated and dynamic Action Book Club at the McLean School in Potomac, Maryland, was orchestrated by Charity Connect, a volunteer-led nonprofit with a mission to engage students and adults in meaningful service.

McLean kindergartners and first-graders read Maddi’s Fridge, which teaches that friends help each other—whether climbing to the top of the jungle gym or filling their fridges with food. The students made cards and decorated bags full of healthy snacks for their friends in need at So What Else, an organization that helps underserved youth in the Washington, D.C. and Maryland metro communities.

We find the Action Book Club instrumental in fostering empathy with kids,” says Cristin Caine, founder and CEO of Charity Connect. “There are tons of amazing books that use stories to simply expose kids to sophisticated themes such as food insecurity. The Action Book Club model solidifies the new knowledge with the kids because they can take what they learn and immediately act.” 

I think it is important for kids (and adults!) to continually learn about the needs that are present and how they can empathize and help,” Cristin adds. “Another ABC book, Small Great Things, made a huge impact to my personal understanding of racism. Creating understanding and forming new knowledge is easier for both kids and adults when relating to characters in a book. Most exclusion comes from not knowing someone who is different from you. You can meet this person in a book and learn from them.” 

Fruita, Colorado

Good Read: Various titles

Good Deed: Harvesting apples for donation to a community food bank

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This Action Book Club completed a nourishing community-service activity perfect for autumn. Club organizer Jesse Bond says:

“Our organization, Humanists Doing Good, volunteered to harvest apples with the Community Alliance for Education and Hunger Relief on World Humanitarian Day. The apples were grown by the Colorado State University Agricultural Experiment Station. We harvested six gaylords, each weighing around 800 pounds, worth of apples that were then donated to community food banks.

“We wanted to work to help our community and demonstrate that nonreligious people are also caring and compassionate people who frequently work with others to benefit the community. Highlights included the sheer number of apples that were harvested and the fact that volunteers were able to bring home apples that weren’t quite perfect to make pies, strudels, and more.”

The Humanists Doing Good group was already carrying out a volunteering event each month, so the Action Book Club was a perfect fit for them.

Their advice to other clubs: “Do good often. Be persistent, tenacious, and routine in carrying out your events. Eventually people will catch on and catch up.”

Keep up the great work, Humanists Doing Good!

Cedar City, Utah

Good Read: The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds

Good Deed: Sharing a homemade book with a children’s crisis nursery

Project Details (click to learn more)

What’s your favorite word? Is it “kerfuffle” or “symphony” or “quantum”? Through the Action Book Club’s monthly newsletter, this kids’ book club won copies of The Word Collector, a book that tells the story of a boy who loves words. Then the club—with members ranging in age from three-and-a-half to eleven—used the power of their words to create a meaningful service project: they wrote a book to share with a local family support center.

Amy Van Duzen, who is also a Little Free Library steward, led the project. “I distributed books to each family at their homes with written instructions to make a collection of fun words, then organize them into a story, poem, or letter,” Amy said. “Each child collected wonderful words and expanded their own vocabularies to write creative stories and participate in the bookmaking process.”

“Due to COVID-19, we couldn’t meet all together, but this project allowed us to work individually or in a smaller family setting and still be part of a group effort,” Amy noted.

Read more about this Action Book Club and their service project!

Troy, Michigan

Good Read: If My Mom Were a Platypus: Mammal Babies and Their Mothers by Dia L. Michels

Good Deed: Sharing books with a school in India

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Five-year-old Simran Adnani loves to read. She is both an Action Book Club member and a Little Free Library steward. When Simran had the opportunity to travel to India with her mom, she knew that sharing books would be part of the trip.

“I am very passionate about reading a variety of books,” Simran says, “and when I was planning my first trip to India, I decided to share the book I was reading with my mom at home with the kids in a very poor rural school in India.”

Great job, Simran! (And Happy 6th Birthday this month!) 

Read Simran’s full story here!

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Good Read: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

Good Deed: Sending books to kids at the border

Project Details (click to learn more)

This Action Book Club believes everyone has the right to read. Recently, club members collected Spanish-language books to send to refugee children in New Mexico. 

“We all loved the idea of getting books into the hands of the children at the border who are suffering all manner of loss and pain,” says Action Book Club organizer Jennifer Pierce. “We felt empathy for these people from a very different place who have the same life goals of safety, health, and opportunity for their children as we do. Our group felt sending books to their children was something admittedly small, but tangible that we could do.”

Learn more about this Action Book Club and their efforts to get books to the border! 

Belvidere, New Jersey

Good Read: The Little Engine that Could

Good Deed: Bringing books back to their little town

Project Details (click to learn more)

When a small town in New Jersey lost access to two public libraries, four teacher friends decided to form an Action Book Club. They love reading and wanted to make sure everyone has access to books.

“Our town used to have two libraries, a country library and a town library. Within the course of a couple years one relocated a few miles away and one closed its doors,” club member Kathi Rosner-Gross explains. “Many people in our town do not have cars and are unable to walk to the new library. Our goal was to put books back into our town—make them available to anyone and everyone, no matter what age.”

Learn more about this Action Book Club and their mission to bring books back to Belvidere! 

Carson City, Nevada

Good Read: The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone

Good Deed: Participating in the 2020 Mom Color Run

Project Details (click to learn more)

The Action Book Club is a great way to invigorate an existing book club. Chenay Pointer-Bueltel says she signed up her club because she thought pairing reading with community service would be “a great way to connect with my community and my book club.”

After reading and discussing The Woman Who Smashed Codes, the Nevada-based club of four chose to participate in the 2020 Mom Color Run in their community.

2020 Mom promotes maternal mental health awareness. “We chose this activity due to the fact that the four of us in the book club are moms, therefore this is a charity close to our hearts,” says Chenay, “as well as the fact that Elizebeth, the woman from The Woman Who Smashed Codes was a mother, and her husband dealt with mental health problems. We also donated $50 to 2020 Mom.”

The group’s activity didn’t go perfectly, and that’s okay. Two book-club members weren’t able to make it to the event. Also, the run itself was not well organized, “so we were a little disappointed in the lack of impact made,” Chenay says. But the remaining members and their families made still had a fun—and colorful—time bringing awareness to an important issue.

Even a small activity can have big impact. Remember: When you share your story with us, and we share your story with our network around the world, your impact grows tenfold!

Troy, Michigan

Good Read: Flying Lessons and Other Stories, edited by Ellen Oh

Good Deed: Hosting “Need a Book, Take a Book” event

Project Details (click to learn more)

At Baker Middle School in Troy, Michigan, an Action Book Club worked to make sure every student has a good book to read.

The Action Book Club, made up of fifteen students in grades 6–8, held a book drive, asking fellow students to donate books that were sitting unread on their shelves at home. The club then hosted a “Need a Book, Take a Book” event, where all students could pick up a new-to-them book before summer vacation.

“We started the club, because we love to read and wanted to spread that throughout our building,” says 7th grade English Language Arts teacher Jenny Adelman. “We also wanted to be sure we were taking action to make a difference.”

Next up? This Action Book Club has a goal to install a Little Free Library book-sharing box in their courtyard.

Osceola, Wisconsin

Good Read: Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

Good Deed: Creating kindness rocks and fidget quilts

Project Details (click to learn more)

At Osceola Middle School in Wisconsin, five summer school students (ages eleven to fourteen) launched an Action Book Club to make service learning fun.

“The book we read was Wishtree,” says club coordinator Laurelei Creuzer. “The story inspired the club members to be kind to others.” 

For their service project, the group enjoyed painting and placing “kindness rocks” around town, handing out small “random kindness candies” to school staff and peers, and creating fidget quilts for the special education department and a local nursing home.

“We LOVED being part of an Action Book Club and plan to do it again when school starts!” says Laurelei.

The Mooresville Action Book Club read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and were inspired to volunteer with local group Hands On Charlotte, creating no-sew blankets for newborns, stuffing information kits for the Red Cross, making bookmarks to encourage literacy, and more. “The love and spirit of giving was palpable as we focused on serving those in need,” says Bitters.

Goleta, California

Good Read: Educated by Tara Westover

Good Deed: Establishing a Little Free Library at the laundromat 

Project Details (click to learn more)

We think this idea is brilliant: Use a Little Free Library to bring books to kids where they are—like a local laundromat!

“My book club banded together to create and maintain a Little Free Library at a laundromat in a low-income neighborhood,” says Action Book Club member Charla Bregante. “We strive to stock the library with culturally relevant and bilingual books and are happy when they find their way into the hands of young children and their families, whether the books are returned to the library or not.

“Our mission is to bring books to children and families where they are, to encourage parents to read aloud to their children, and to inspire a love of books and reading in under-served communities.

“We promote and/or partner with several organizations and campaigns including our local public library…. We are looking forward to hosting story times for young children, and other events as our library continues to grow.”

You can find the “House of Laundry Little Free Library,” charter #84914, on our world map.

Charla and her fellow book club members hope to inspire other clubs to start Little Libraries in locations that are accessible to under-served children and adults. Is there a laundromat in your area that needs a Little Free Library, too?

Cherokee Village, Arkansas

Good Read: Fully Alive by Timothy Shriver

Good Deed: Hosting a book giveaway at the farmers market

Project Details (click to learn more)

On Memorial Day weekend, this Action Book Club gave away free books at their local farmers market to kick off summer. They got a great response!

“It warmed my heart to have kids pick out a book, then run to their mom and ask if they can read it ‘right now’!” says club member Hope Smith.

“We concentrated mostly on children’s books but had quite a few adults pick out books also. One little girl came up with a unicorn T-shirt on, and her eyes lit up when she saw the book Pegasus by Kate O’Hearn.”  

The six members of this Action Book Club—who call themselves the “Middlebrows”—range in age from 40 to 98.

“I think book discussions are so important,” Hope says. “We all come from different backgrounds, life experiences, and attitudes. We learn from each other, develop our critical thinking, and open our hearts and minds together. After that we can show kindness, compassion, and empathy outside our group—it doesn’t have to be a big undertaking to put a smile on someone’s face.”

Next, they’re looking forward to reading Rising Strong by Brené Brown, which they won through our monthly book giveaways!

Potomac, Maryland

Good Read: Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson

Good Deed: Creating days-of-the-week kindness reminders

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What small thing can you do every day to spread kindness? An awesome third-grade Brownie troop made simple reminders with Post-it notes to help them be kindness ambassadors. The notes designated tasks for each day of the week:  

Monday is for Moms – Being kind to moms, dads, grandparents, caregivers, teachers, and anyone who helps us be our best.

Tuesday is for Tough Ones – Being kind when it takes time or makes us go out of our way.

Wednesday is for Words – Being mindful to think before we speak and always speak with kindness.

Thursday is for Thoughts – Noticing if we have an unkind thought or reaction and pausing to change it.

Friday is for Others – Offering small acts of kindness for others, like finding something we no longer need and donating it, holding a door, or helping someone.

Saturday is for Self-Care – Taking time to notice what makes us great, doing something we like, treating ourselves.

Sunday is for Smile-Collecting – How many people can you make smile on Sundays?

“There is a reason for the expression ‘getting lost in a book,’” says Action Book Club leader Cristin Caine of Charity Connect. “Books enable us to focus on a character and their story. Our sense of empathy is activated and we can easily be inspired to action. The trick is to spring into action before the spell of the book is broken.”

“The Action Book Club model leads us to pair service directly with the book,” she continues. “In this case, our third-graders learned about the effects of Mary’s kindness and quickly got to work planning how they could cause their own ripples of kindness.”

Hudson, Wisconsin

Good Read: Eat Your Greens, Reds, Yellows and Purples by DK Books

Good Deed: Teaching others about healthy eating

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The Hudson, Wisconsin, school system is home to the country’s first Health Action Book Club, where students read wellness-related books and carry out activities that promote good health. They even have Health Action Book Club–themed Little Free Libraries at each school!

Recently, students at Houlton Elementary used the program to learn all about eating right.

For their service project, the group of third- and fourth-graders wrote a play called Eat Your Vegetables, about a boy named Billy who wouldn’t eat anything but junk food, then learns what he’s been missing. After five weeks of reading, meeting after school, planning, and practicing, the group shared their play with students in kindergarten through second grade.

The Health Action Book Club activity was a hit with the participating students.

“They loved it!” says coordinator Liz Malanaphy. “I think they especially loved making their ‘costumes’ which were cut out of flat cardboard and featured junk food on one side and healthy food on the other. The avocado turned into an ice cream cone, the cucumber turned into an Oreo, the blueberry turned into a lollipop and the watermelon slice turned into an M&M. The first performance of the play made them very nervous, but by the second and third performances, they really loved to make the audience react!”

School principal Sue Hellmers agreed that it was a success. “This club provided a great opportunity to bring together kids from different grades and different classrooms to work on a common project,” Hellmers says. “This was a great way for students to learn about a health topic of their choice, and for them to take action and share their learning with others.”  

Boylston, Massachusetts

Good Read: The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve

Good Deed: Donating hats and mittens

Project Details (click to learn more)

The Berlin/Boylston Action Book Club in Massachusetts, is a great example of how a group can be flexible about what the community—and the members—need.

“We have about a dozen members, all busy working professionals, who participate in a variety of ways” says Alison LeBlanc. “Some read along with us; some meet to volunteer, coordinate through social media, or just chime in with helpful suggestions and support.” 

This Action Book Club has also been successful bringing in different groups to work with them. “We target a different need each month, so we’ve run programs for the elderly, high school teenagers, parents, and young kids. The police, the library, the school, and the council on aging have all partnered with us over the last year.”

Most recently they collected several bags’ worth of winter-weather hats and mittens—some store-bought and some handmade—to share with the Cradles to Crayons organization.

“It’s been a really cool way to connect with the neighbors,” Alison concludes. “What’s impressed me the most is how consistently generous people are just for the price of asking. Very uplifting, the whole experience!”

Kenmore, New York

Good Read: The Dinner by Herman Koch

Good Deed: Dinner volunteers at a healthcare hospitality house

Project Details (click to learn more)

The Eclectic Readers Book Club in Kenmore, New York, has more than 400 official members. Facilitator Donna Young started the club via ten years ago, and it’s been going strong ever since, with 15-20 attendees at each meeting. When she heard about the Action Book Club, she thought it would be a great fit for their group.

The club doesn’t strictly follow the Action Book Club recommended reading list (and that’s okay!)—instead they pick fascinating titles through a voting process.

“We read The Dinner for our July book club and took it literally,” says Donna. For their Action Book Club activity, they volunteered as the dinner crew at the Kevin Guest House, the country’s first independent health hospitality house.

This isn’t the group’s first Action Book Club activity. Previously they discussedThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, then organized a book drive for Children and Family Services of Buffalo.

Keep up the great work, Eclectic Readers!

Hopkins, Minnesota

Good Read: In the Neighborhood: The Search for Community on an American Street, One Sleepover at a Time by Peter Lovenheim

Good Deed: Stocking a local food shelf with 99 “meals in a bag”

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The Avenues Neighborhood Association in Hopkins, Minnesota, says their first Action Book Club project was fun and rewarding!

First, they read In the Neighborhood: The Search for Community on an American Street, One Sleepover at a Time, which they call “a good story about community and getting to know your neighbors.” Then they chose to help their local food shelf, the ICA.

“Our book club’s neighborhood association, the Hopkins ANA donated $300 plus, individual book club members donated an additional $100.” says member Bonnie Quinn. “This enabled the ICA volunteers to shop with these donations and receive an excellent deal from our grocery neighbor, Driskill’s, to purchase food for the ANA Action Book Club volunteers to make/fill 99 ‘meals in a bag.’”

Other Action Book Club participants included Julie BoehmerWinslow, Lucy Arimond, Ann Van Sickle, Barb Weaver, Molly Cummings, Brian Hunke, Elizabeth Reynolds and videographer Bob Metoxen.

Bonnie says:

“The ICA K-Tel Drive location is impressive complete with shopping carts, aisles, checkout ‘registers,’ incoming food scale, warehouse storage, sorting shelves, and business offices. It is quite a production and has evolved immensely since its inception on Williston Road in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

“Our group then got to work—bagged 99 bags of supper tonight, all in one bag. These meals will be given to ICA clients as a special ‘bonus bag’ that can be offered (when ICA has them). Extra nice, because they contain everything for a complete meal with less stress, less pressure especially now with school starting up again.

“Looking forward to our next book read/community service project. As always…you are what you eat!”

Midlothian, Virginia

Good Read: Mockingbird by Katherine Erskine

Good Deed: Painting rocks that represent caring and compassion and hiding them in a school garden

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Twenty students from Robious Middle School make up this kind-hearted Action Book Club.

“We have had a book club for many years and we wanted to inspire our students to help others in the community,” says organizer Donna Wilson. “Our students love to create and make things so we ask for input from them to see what they would like to do.”

They chose a local twist on “kindness rocks,” says Donna:

“Painting the rocks with sayings and decorations was an idea that came from our city’s movement called RVA Rocks. Many families were painting rocks over the summer and hiding them in local parks for others to find. Our students wanted to paint rocks and then hide them for our students with intellectual disabilities. The book that we read had a teacher that showed caring and compassion for a student with Asperger’s so the rocks represented kindness towards others.”

Donna offers this advice for school-based Action Book Clubs: “Seek input from your students to find something that they are passionate about.”

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Good Read: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Good Deed: Making May baskets for neighbors

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This Minneapolis Action Book Club gathered their children to join them for a fun project. Member Stephanie Kappel says:

“Our Action Book Club kicked off the season with A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. A good read about great neighbors, the book inspired us to rally the kids to make and deliver May baskets for our neighbors. Each basket brought a bit of spring to our community on the very cold and even snowy first day of May in Minneapolis!”

Bellingham, Washington

Good Read: Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña

Good Deed: Raising money for a local aquarium

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Your Action Book Club doesn’t need to be big to make an impact. Eowyn Savela and her sons Harald and Theodore have a book club group of three. Their good deed? Harald, age seven, ran a free lemonade stand that accepted donations for the Marine Life Center, a local aquarium. (They also host a Little Free Library book exchange in their front yard.)

“I thought it would be fun, and it was!” says Harald. “I really like the aquarium. I might want to be a marine biologist when I grow up.”

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Good Read: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Good Deed: Collecting healthy food for the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive

Grand Coteau, Louisiana

Good Read: Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell

Good Deed: Painting colorful pictures for nursing home residents

Credit: Photo by Brad Kemp, The Acadiana Advocate

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At Academy of the Sacred Heart, an Action Book Club made up of Pre-K through fourth-grade students is brightening the walls of a local nursing home and retirement center with paintings they create in art class.

“I like giving to others and being kind,” kindergartner Ella Rose said in this delightful television interview.

The students were inspired by the book Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood, which was read to them by parent Alysson Foti Bourque.

This isn’t the first project for the Academy of the Sacred Heart Action Book Club. Last fall, during the pilot program, students read Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and collected more than 100 pairs of new socks for a homeless shelter.

“This was such a rewarding experience where we all had an important part of the ‘action,’” says Alysson, herself a children’s book author. “All the kids worked together to help the community in need, and the shelters were so thankful for the kind gesture.”

Kenmore, New York

Good Read: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Good Deed: Organizing a book drive for Children and Family Services of Buffalo, NY

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“Because of the oppressive nature of The Handmaid’s Tale, we wanted to give back to children and women in our community,” says Action Book Club member Donna Young.

Lee’s Summit, Missouri

Good Read: Small Great Things: A Novel by Jodi Picoult

Good Deed: Contacting elected officials to encourage continued funding of a local legal aid program

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Recently, we learned of an Action Book Club that has been especially busy. A group of retired teachers and friends near Kansas City is on their way to completing three Action Book Club projects. We’re impressed!

First, they read Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project, the true story of a Polish Catholic social worker who organized a rescue network of fellow social workers to save 2,500 Jewish children during World War II. After reading the book, this Action Book Club chose to volunteer at the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education, helping to evaluate submissions to the White Rose Student Essay Contest.

“We chose this activity because of the Holocaust themes of resistance and rescue in the book,” says member Cathy Blake.

For their second Action Book Club project, they read Books for Living by Will Schwalbe and donated books and toys to a local homeless program. Next up, after already reading Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Small Things: A Novel the group plans to contact their elected officials to encourage them to continue to fund Legal Aid of Missouri.

Cathy offers this suggestion: “Choose books and activities that you enjoy as well as those that may provide new genres and experiences.” Her other words of advice? “Keep it up!”

Midlothian, Virginia

Good Read: Refugee by Alan Gratz

Good Deed: Knitting scarves for local refugees

Project Details (click to learn more)

The “Book Nooks Action Book Club” at Robious Middle School is working on a decidedly warmhearted project this winter.

First, they read Refugee, which tells the tale of three different kids from three different countries who go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. The club chose the book to learn more about acceptance and inclusion. 

“It is really a gripping story about families being united and overcoming obstacles,” says school librarian and Action Book Club organizer Donna Wilson. 

The club wanted to help people in their area, so they connected with the CWS immigration and refugee office in Richmond, Virginia, which works with local volunteers to welcome new arrivals to the community.

“We decided to finger-knit scarves and put together emergency kits for this organization for our community service project,” Donna says.

When we let author Alan Gratz know about this Action Book Club, he sent a very special message:

“I’m so excited that the Action Book Club chose to read my book, Refugee, and I’m even more thrilled to learn that it inspired you to knit scarves for refugees in your community. One of the best things you can do to help refugees who have come to the United States is simply to be a friend to them, to reach out to them and let them know they are welcome, and I can think of no better way to do that than with these personal, handmade, heartfelt gifts. Keep reading, Action Book Club, and keep changing the world!” 

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