By Lauren Barack
With Timmy Failure, Greg Heffley, Captain Underpants, and Big Nate at your aid, anything, at least kid-related, seems possible. That’s exactly the hope of authors Stephan Pastis, Jeff Kinney, Dav Pilkey, and Lincoln Peirce.
This kid lit tour-de-force combines efforts at Drawn Together, an event taking place this Saturday, June 20, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, CA. The four authors will meet fans, sign autographs, and answer questions while raising funds for Access Books, a Los Angeles–based nonprofit that rebuilds—and stocks—libraries in schools where the majority of students are below the poverty line.
“I think what shocked me was that there wasn’t a budget for school libraries in those areas,” says Kinney. “To me, that was really unthinkable.”
This is the second Drawn Together event that the four authors have held in the past two years. The first benefited school libraries in Moore, OK, after an EF-5 tornado destroyed much of the city in 2013.
All proceeds from this Saturday’s event will go to Access Books, which serves school libraries across the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) as well as Pasadena and San Bernardino, CA.
“Our goal is to provide books to children who don’t have access to books,” says Rebecca Constantino, executive director of the organization, which she founded in 1999. “These schools can’t do fund-raising themselves.”
School libraries selected by Access Books receive about 3,500 titles as well as physical updating, with volunteers painting walls, setting up books, and arranging new furniture that has been donated. A librarian on the Access Books staff oversees the cataloging of new books, and all of the work on a library site is finished in a day.
So far, more than 200 libraries have been refurbished, says Constantino—including school libraries, community libraries at homeless shelters, and foster care center locations. The group completed six libraries since last spring.
Schools looking for help from Access Books often find out about the organization through word of mouth. But recently, LAUSD reached out to the organization and gave Constantino a list of schools that in need of assistance, she says.
Presigned books will be for sale for $10 and posters available for five dollars. Kinney says that if children want to bring a single, favorite title from home, the gang of four will be happy to sign one per child. To Kinney and the others, getting books into the hands of kids—and supporting libraries at the same time—is what the event is all about.
“I learned to be a cartoonist because of books I found in the library,” he says. “I learned to code a computer because of books in the library. We not only had great libraries but great bookstores growing up. And that’s been one of the losses in our time.”
The Saturday event at the Disney concert Hall is expected to bring an infusion of capital to Access Books. Tickets are priced at $35 each—or $42 through Ticketmaster—and Constantino says that the price of every ticket covers about five new books. Doors open at noon, with Julie Bowen from ABC’s Modern Family serving as host.
(Read the article on School Library Journal here)