The Examiner

Fundraising Campaign to Bring Children’s Books to Needy Families

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The Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival is partnering on a fundraising campaign with two other organizations and Barnes & Noble to bring books to children in underserved communities.

The Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival has become one of the most highly anticipated events for children and their families in Westchester.

But the festival’s founder, Dawn Greenberg, doesn’t limit her dedication to promoting children’s literacy to one day a year.

The festival, along with End Book Deserts and One Book Westchester, another organization that Greenberg is part of, has launched a new campaign called Books in Hand. Its mission is to get books to children living in underserved Westchester communities, particularly when kids have been out of school for nearly a month and a half and the early reviews on remote learning have been uneven at best.

Greenberg said that some of the unexpected idle time in the early days of the coronavirus shutdown spawned this latest idea.

“For a few weeks, I was sort of paralyzed, and then I started thinking – how could we do what we do, which is trying to connect kids with books and start to think about where the real pockets of need are in our county,” she said.

The Books in Hand campaign aims to raise money through a GoFundMe site to put together 5,000 packets of age-appropriate books for children in grades K-12 in communities of need. A packet would provide five books to each child in order to offer some variety, since not every youngster is going to like every book that they receive, Greenberg said.

Initially, Greenberg said, the effort is to concentrate on Mount Vernon and White Plains with hopes to expand to Ossining, Yonkers and other communities that could use the help.

Barnes & Noble and local children’s book authors are also helping to deliver the books, hopefully starting by mid-May, Greenberg said. The packets will be included in families’ weekly grocery packs through agencies and pantries.

With many families preoccupied with putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads, children’s books could be considered a luxury.

“We all hear these stories about families struggling today,” Greenberg said. “I really hope we can fulfill this initiative and do even more.”

Greenberg said even if children’s educational needs are being met, the books could help stem the “summer slide,” when children who often don’t read during the more than two months away from school tend to regress when they return in the fall.

For more information and to donate to the Books in Hand Program, visit

Festival Plans Continue

Greenberg and the other organizers of the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival are scheduled to hold this year’s event on Saturday, Oct. 3 on the grounds of Robert E. Bell Middle School in Chappaqua.

However, with so many unknowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is difficult at this point to gauge whether it will be held, postponed or conducted with social distancing provisions, Greenberg said.

She said a decision would be made by July 1, since about three months of lead time will be needed to pull the festival together.

“We want to keep our options open and certainly we would follow the best advice,” Greenberg said. “We’re looking at a layout

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