Young readers get boost with home libraries on Saturday

East Palo Alto nonprofit 10 Books a Home to host bookshelf painting, distribution event for 40 early readers and families

A few years ago, Paul Thiebaut came up with a simple mantra: Success starts at home. These days, he wants to make that happen.

On Saturday (Aug. 6), his two-year-old literacy nonprofit 10 Books a Home (10BH) will host its first event, A Bookcase in Every Home, at a private residence in Redwood City. Approximately 40 East Palo Alto preschoolers and kindergarteners will attend, along with their families and 22 volunteers.

At the event, children will be able to paint their own bookcases with the help of their families and then take them home to keep.

Thiebaut, whose organization gives 10 free children's books and free, in-home reading tutoring to any interested East Palo Alto families, believes that bookshelves are more than just storage space.

As "a permanent place to keep books," a bookcase both "establishes the importance of books in the household" and "highlights the importance of literacy," Thiebaut said.

According to the Peninsula Partnership Leadership Council, nearly 75 percent of third graders in the Ravenswood School District read at a basic or below-basic reading level. Thiebaut and his 10 Books a Home "book friends" (what the organization calls its reading tutors) hope to change this by leading young readers to love reading and learning early in life.

Since beginning in-home reading tutoring in March, 10 Books a Home has received much positive feedback from parents amazed by their children's progress, Thiebaut said. One parent said her child began begging for books rather than toys, while another family began to read together every night.

"Don't ever tell someone that fairytales are fairytales," he said. "Anything is possible."

Thiebaut also hopes that the event -- which also includes free lunch, baked goods and a puppet show -- will build community and start "enduring relationships" among the children and parents. (All children in attendance already receive private tutoring from 10 Books a Home volunteers.)

Bookshelf-painting supplies were contributed by Kelly-Moore Paints and Books & Bookshelves, an independent furniture store in San Francisco.

More information is available at 10 Books a Home or its Facebook page.

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