ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Looking for an educational way to entertain your kids this summer? Roanoke Public Libraries recently received a donation of 41,778 children’s books — valued at $538,000 — from the Soho Center.
“We are thrilled to receive these beautiful children’s books,” Roanoke Public Libraries Director Sheila Umberger said. “We know that these books will brighten children’s days and help them develop a love of reading.”
City officials say the Soho Center has given away more than 15 million books to Virginia children, including 50,000 to public libraries throughout the Commonwealth. However, this gift to the Roanoke Public Libraries marks Soho’s largest donation to a single public library.
Soho’s READ and READY! donation to the Roanoke Public Libraries includes board books for babies and toddlers, picture books for preschoolers and young elementary schoolers, and various chapter books for elementary and middle schoolers.
“We are very pleased to partner with the Roanoke Public Libraries, knowing that our books will be given to thousands of preschool and school-age children to promote children’s literacy, school readiness, grade-level reading, and school success,” said Jeanna Baker, Soho Center’s Director. “After a year of children spending so much time online looking at ‘screens,’ we’re happy that the Roanoke Public Libraries is able to partner with public schools and many community groups to put tens of thousands of our quality books into the hands of Roanoke children and families.”
According to John Metz, Deputy for Collections and Programs at the Library of Virginia, “We think Soho’s READ and READY! project is an important, model project to promote reading and to highlight outstanding public libraries here in Virginia. The Library of Virginia has provided funding to pilot READ and READY! in Roanoke City, and we look forward to a very successful roll-out first in Roanoke and then, to other public libraries and communities in Virginia.”
Roanoke Public Libraries plan to share all of Soho’s donated books with the community in various ways in the coming months, including as part of themed literacy kits, and through distributions with local public schools and more than 30 community partner organizations that are part of the Star City Reads network.
“It’s a great opportunity for Roanoke’s children and families,” Umberger added.
Roanoke Public Libraries and its Star City Reads program will announce the distribution of these free books on their Facebook and Instagram accounts.
This news comes just a week before all Roanoke Public Libraries are set to resume their regular hours and reopen their doors for interior services.