Leaders+Readers Spotlight

teeshirtAs one of our previous blogs mentioned, Milk+Bookies has taken over the programming for BookEnds, the leader in school wide book drives in Los Angeles for the last 16 years and responsible for over 2 million books donated to low income schools. It is now operating as the Leaders+Readers program, which hosts school-to-school book drives with the aim of getting out into the community and helping build libraries in low-income public schools, while teaching kids to give back AND promote literacy. It is a really exciting venture and the first time Milk+Bookies has branched out and expanded our mission. To commemorate this momentous occasion, I sat down with our Program Manager for Leaders+Readers, Courtney Collins, to talk all about it. This is what she had to say:


Program Manager Courtney (on right) with an LA Earth Angel volunteer at L+R's first Book Drive.

Program Manager Courtney (on right) with an LA Earth Angel volunteer at L+R’s first Book Drive.

What has been your favorite part of Leaders+Readers so far? 

I pretty much love everything about it! It is really fun to talk with the kids who are hosting the book drive before it gets started- setting goals, helping them come up with ideas to make other students within the school know about the drive, and getting them excited about giving back. When I get to visit them a second time, I get to witness the looks of pride on their faces as we pile up all the collected books, in anticipation of sorting, and to watch them get to work boxing and label the books. The whole experience is priceless. I also really, really enjoy meeting with the faculty members of the recipient schools. After every visit, I walk away in awe at the incredible drive, generosity, and kindness of these teachers and principals who are working with limited resources to help enrich the lives of many children living in tough situations and environments. Every principal I have met with from the lower income recipient schools has a firm goal of getting their students reading, no matter the skill level, conditions at home or obstacles. That makes me want to inspire the children hosting book drives as much as possible so that we can supply the volume the recipient school needs.


IMG_4246What has the reaction been from kids, parents, teachers, etc.? 

The reaction has been incredibly positive! The very best part of any gratitude piece is the “buddy” letters that are exchanged between the children at each school. I just picked up some thank you notes from a donor school in response to beautiful letters sent from the recipient school. This piece of our program is seriously the most heart warming to me.


How many schools has Leaders+Readers gone to so far? How many do you plan to go to throughout the year? 

Milk+Bookies has been involved with this program since late 2014 and we have assisted in fourteen book drives (working with 28 schools). I expect that by the end of the year we will reach forty book drives!


What do you hope to accomplish in Leaders+Readers first year? 

First, I hope to make a lasting impression and impact on the fourth graders who I work with from the donor schools, so that they go home and ask their parents if they can host Milk+Bookies book drives at their homes or birthday parties, or ask other ways that they can give back in their community and share their knowledge with more of their peers. Second, I would like to see a great amount of the schools requesting to be a recipient of our drives, to get the books they need.


What do you think makes a program like Leaders+Readers so important?

I think that kids, like adults, like to feel involved, important and inspired. Our program lets the children hosting a drive feel like the leaders, givers, and helpers that they are. I believe it leaves lasting impressions and truly makes them feel good about themselves. The affect of that positivity is contagious and lasting.

Photo Feb 13, 11 53 28 AM

Sounds like some great times are ahead and we will be keeping you all updated on its development!


In the meantime, follow Milk+Bookies (@milkandbookies) and Leaders+Readers (@leadersandreaderson Instagram for all of our up to date info!

If interested in connecting the Leaders+Readers Book Drive Program with a Los Angeles school, please send an inquiry to bookdrives@milkandbookies.org.

And remember to always READ! GIVE! GROW!

by Alesha Dailey

Kids Books to Celebrate Black History Month

Since 1976, every U.S. President has officially designated February as Black History Month, or National African American History Month. It is an annual celebration of the achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role they have had in U.S. History. It is a great opportunity to open up the conversation with your kids about race, civil rights, and the history of African Americans.

Milk+Bookies has put together a list of five books, for children of all ages, that provide a historical context and highlight some of our nation’s African American heroes.

(*Book summaries from Google Books*)

1. If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks, by Faith Ringglold

if a bus could talk


“If a bus could talk, it would tell the story of a young African-American girl named Rosa who had to walk miles to her one-room schoolhouse in Alabama while white children rode to their school in a bus. It would tell how the adult Rosa rode to and from work on a segregated city bus and couldn’t sit in the same row as a white person. It would tell of the fateful day when Rosa refused to give up her seat to a white man and how that act of courage inspired others around the world to stand up for freedom.

In this book a bus does talk, and on her way to school a girl named Marcie learns why Rosa Parks is the mother of the Civil Rights movement. At the end of Marcie’s magical ride, she meets Rosa Parks herself at a birthday party with several distinguished guests. Wait until she tells her class about this!”

2. Of Thee I Sing, by Barack Obama

of thee i sing


“In this tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation. From the artistry of Georgia O’Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America’s children.”

3. Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by Doreen Rappaport

martins big words


“Told from the perspective of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s sister, this picture-book biography is an excellent and accessible introduction for young readers to learn about one of the world’s most influential leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Doreen Rappaport weaves the immortal words of Dr. King into a captivating narrative to tell the story of his life. With stunning art by acclaimed illustrator Bryan Collier, Martin’s Big Words is an unforgettable portrait of a man whose dream changed America-and the world-forever.”

4. 100 African-Americans Who Shaped American History, by Chrisanne Beckner


“Offers brief biographies of African American educators, entertainers, inventors, authors, athletes, and others who have made important contributions to American life.”

5. Chains (Seeds of America Trilogy), by Laurie Halse Anderson


“As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight…for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.”


We hope you enjoy our selections!

If any of you have any other Black History Month book selections, we would love for you to share them with us on Facebook, Twitteror Instagram!! #MilkandBookies


by Alesha Dailey

Leaders+Readers Book Drive Program

L+R Logo

Ten years of Milk + Bookies has resulted in 111,000 books raised and 40,000 children engaged in giving backWith such amazing accomplishments over this past decade, it is time for Milk+Bookies to look forward to the next exciting phase.

Milk+Bookies is thrilled to announce the take over of BookEnds programming!


BookEnds, the leader in school wide book drives in Los Angeles for the last 16 years, has been responsible for over 2 million books donated to low income schools and will now operate under Milk+Bookies as the Leaders+Readers Book Drive program. It’s a natural fit and a thrilling endeavor to exponentially expand the Milk+Bookies mission.


Milk+Bookies has already kicked off the Leaders+Readers Book Drive program in seven schools in the greater Los Angeles area and has identified another seven Title 1 schools in the Watts and Compton areas with great need to receive donations of thousands of new books.  Milk + Bookies plans to scale this program throughout the city and impact more children than ever before.



If interested in connecting the Milk+Bookies Leaders+Readers Book Drive program with a Los Angeles school, please send an inquiry to bookdrives@milkandbookies.org.



by Caitlyn Young

Valentine’s Day Inspired Book-Raiser

vday decor

Well folks, it is officially February and Valentine’s Day is right around the corner!

What better time of year to celebrate your love of books and giving than now, right? The team here at Milk+Bookies love discovering new ways that we can help make your Book-Raiser memorable, fun, and successful. So, we have compiled a list of our top 5 favorite DIY and party planning ideas (courtesy of Pinterest…where would we all be without it?!?) inspired by Valentine’s Day!

Heart Garlands

heart garland

Garlands are one of the best ways to decorate for any party and there are endless ways to make them. This is a great example of a “book-themed” heart garland. If you have as much of an aversion to cutting up books as we do then newspaper works just as well!  

Valentine’s Day Coloring Cards

vday coloring cards

You can find tons of free printable cards online like these or, if you are the more creative type, you can design your own. What we do at all of our book-raisers is have kids fill out and draw on cards that say things like “Reading makes me feel..” or “Giving makes me feel…”. You can see examples here.

Books All About Love

the day it rained hearts

Who knew there were so many children’s books out there that would be perfect for story time at your Valentine’s Day themed book-raiser!?! You could also tell the kids to donate their favorite books about love. You can find a list of some great Valentine’s Day themed children’s books here.

Blind Date with a Book

blind date with a book2

Discovered this activity on Pinterest and immediately fell in love with it! It would be great to see this incorporated as a way for the kids to choose a book for story time. You simply wrap the books in plain paper then write clues to what the story is about!

Cookies…Of Course!      

heart cookies

Now, what would a Milk+Bookies Book-Raiser be without cookies!?! Whether you are a culinary wiz or a more pre-made kinda person, just grab a heart-shaped cookie cutter and go to town! Or, you could purchase the official Milk+Bookies Cookie from Isabella’s Cookie Company. YUM!


Happy planning everyone!

To find out how to host your own Milk+Bookies Book-Raiser click here.


by Alesha Dailey