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Books For Ownership:

The Power to Choose

For disadvantaged children, the opportunity to choose a book to own provides a taste of the dignity of personal autonomy. These opportunities can inspire children to make greater choicesto choose learning, to choose success in school and life, and to choose a brighter future.

Children participating in RIF’s flagship Books for Ownership (BFO) program have these opportunities multiple times a year. RIF’s passion for literacy creates a unique method of distribution: Dozens of books are displayed, allowing children to explore their interests and make their own choices. The books are free but the moments are priceless, as excited readers show off their selections, pose for pictures, and ask in wide-eyed amazement: “I really don’t have to bring this book back to the library?”

The book distributions are enhanced by fun reading-motivational activities. These range from simple one-to-one read-alouds with volunteers, to elaborate reading-themed carnivals that involve entire communities. The only requirements are that these activities be fun, happen multiple times a year, and relate to reading. Then the only limitation is the imagination of RIF's dedicated volunteers.

RIF BFO programs must also involve the local communities. This involvement includes supplying some of the funding to buy the books (usually 25 percent for programs qualifying for the federal program) and bringing in enthusiastic volunteers to assist with all aspects of the RIF program. Selecting and buying the books, planning and executing the distributions, administering the paperwork, and promoting the joy and fun of reading to children is all done by local volunteers.

This program is vital for children who have no books in their homes, who have limited access to libraries and bookstores, and who, without RIF, would not experience the thrill of owning their own books. Through a corps of more than 400,000 volunteers, RIF’s Books for Ownership program reaches children of all ages in a variety of settingsschools, community centers, churches, hospitals, and health clinics.

Service Goals

  • Provide new, free books and literacy resources to children and their families.
  • Motivate children to read.
  • Generate community support for literacy.

Program Components

  • Book ownership: Children select two to five books per year at no cost.
  • Motivational activities: Volunteers host entertaining and educational reading events.
  • Family and community involvement: RIF headquarters provides resources and technical assistance to program coordinators recruiting and engaging volunteers.

Books for Ownership