A literary favorite of ours: Sandra Cisneros' "La Casa en Mango Street," a YA book that tells the story of Esperanza Cordero, a Latina girl who grows up in Chicago. Donate a copy by buying from East City Bookshop, Politics and Prose, or Amazon: https://t.co/fbyvDsQx0Q pic.twitter.com/cNRqIju2q1— 2000 Libros (@2000Libros) July 17, 2018
More than 2,000 migrant children remain under the care of the United States government, waiting to be reunited with their parents. In order to bring some joy to these young boys and girls, two women stepped in, starting a campaign to donate books to the children stuck in shelters.
As reports have surfaced throughout the weeks about the poor and neglectful conditions of many of these shelters, Elizabeth Ballou and Kristin Stadum founded the charity 2,000 Libros. The goal was to collect books and send them to migrant children.
Ballou had looked into organizations donating books to children forcefully separated from their parents at the border only to discover that nobody had been doing that work. That’s when the duo decided to take the initiative.
“Books have always offered me some form of comfort,” Ballou said. “They give us such solace. Books transport you to an entirely different world, which is kind of a magic in and of itself.”
Stadum works as a volunteer and board member for DC Books to Prisons Project. The nonprofit organization collects and sends books to people behind bars across 34 states.
Once Ballou had the idea for 2,000 Libros, she reached out to Stadum and explained that she wanted to bring the magical world of books to migrant children being held in shelters across the country. In no time, the two were brainstorming ways of making their idea a reality.
Ballou had already reached out to several immigrant children’s detention facilities asking if they were open to receiving these books, so when Stadum became involved, it was easy to get DC Books excited to help.
“The DC Books to Prison board agreed very quickly to back this effort,” Stadum said. “It aligned with our mission, and these children are prisoners.”
The duo contacted independent bookstores in the Washington, D.C., area, asking them to help promote the drive.
By requesting that people donate gently used or new children’s books printed in Spanish or both English and Spanish, the women managed to collect over 500 books and counting.
On July 14, the organization sent its first shipment to Crittenton Services for Children and Families in California and Southwest Key in Texas.
While both Stadum and Ballou said they know that books alone are not going to make up for the time they have spent away from their parents and for the psychological damage caused by the ordeal they have suffered, the women believe that the books may help to give these children some comfort.
“I was horrified to think of children being taken from their parents,” Stadum said. “There’s comfort in knowing that somewhere out there, a child is reading a book.”
Some of the books collected so far include "Lucha Libre," Spanish translations of the "Harry Potter" series, and "The Little Prince," among others.
With a limited schedule, the women said they are not sure how often they might be able to ship these books to shelters, but they plan on continuing with the project for as long as necessary.
“This is not a sustainable project for us, just because it takes so much time and resource to coordinate this,” Ballou explained. “While we — as a pair of women, one entering graduate school and one with a full-time job — may not be able to sustain this drive for years, we’re going to keep volunteering and helping in whatever way we can once this winds down.”
This effort is more than commendable. But beyond praise, these women could use some help.
If you would like to help them in any capacity, or if you have books or cash to donate, contact them by visiting their Facebook page here.
Reading and having the ability to embark on an adventure through the pages of a book is an experience that all children should have access to. Hopefully, 2,000 Libros will soon be able to reach each and every single one of these kids.