Eradicating Mecklenburg County’s Book Desert

Eradicating Mecklenburg County's Book Desert

There are 60,000 children in the Charlotte area currently living in a book desert. 

A book desert is an area with homes that have less than 10 books in them, and unfortunately the majority of Mecklenburg County suffers with this issue, according to a nonprofit called Promising Pages. 

Talisha Rogers and her four children live in a book desert, but you wouldn’t know it. 

“I think it’s so important to hold that book, put it in your hand, flip the pages, talk to about what’s going on in the story,” she said. 

Growing up, reading was something Rogers parents couldn’t stress enough.

“My parents made sure that I read all the time,” she said.

That’s why she’s worked to build a home library of over 500 books for her children, and a large chunk of those books came from Promising Pages. 

Eric Law is the executive director of Promising Pages, and said their nonprofit works to collect new and donated books and share them with children who live in book deserts. 

Law acquired data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress that shows most children in Mecklenburg County have less than 20 books in their homes. 

“We want to eradicate the book desert,” Law said. “We estimate that there are at least 60 to 70,000 children living in that book desert region, and we want to bring that down to zero.” 

Law and his team work to do that by partnering up with schools and organizations to hold free book drives. 

Over the last two years, Promising Pages has given out over 190,000 books. 

Law says by 2025 they are working to make sure every household has a home library of at least 25 books. 

Thanks to organizations like Promising Pages, Rogers and other families in the county can continue to make sure their children are able to appreciate a good book.  

“We have definitely received a lot of books and they are using them, they’re sharing them … this is what we do,” she said. 

Promising Pages is gearing up for one of its biggest book drives of the year in May. It will work with over 15 schools to distribute nearly 50,000 books for children to read over the summer. 

If you’d like to donate more than 200 books, you can email Law and his team to schedule a time to drop them off at their operations center. 

If you have less than 200 books you’d like to donate, you can drop them off at one of their drop-off locations in the city listed here.

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