Ask anyone under 4 feet tall, and they’ll tell you that birthday parties are all about the gifts. For us moms, the kid’s gift-getting rush just means a trip to the storage locker to accommodate all the new stuff. Why not reduce clutter by combining your little lit lover’s fondness for books with a chance to make a difference? Share your child’s love of reading with other kids who don’t have the same resources. Try hosting a book-based birthday bash that’s a blast for your kid, while helping others as well.

photo courtesy of Milk + Bookies’ Facebook

Milk + Bookies

The brainchild of an L.A.-based mom, the mission of this national non-profit is to inspire children to give back, using books as currency. Milk + Bookies offers families a how-to guide for putting on a party that promotes literacy and teaches service simultaneously.  Plan a storybook-themed celebration or dream up an idea based on your kid’s interests.  Families can pre-order a ‘Bookie Box’ with cool stickers, bookmarks and tips on talking to kids about charitable giving. Kiddie guests are asked to bring a new or gently used children’s book to donate (if preferred, in lieu of a gift), and the celebrant can help choose a youth-oriented organization that will benefit; Milk + Bookies will assist with finding a recognized recipient.

At the party, the young donors receive stickers proclaiming “I Donated!” as badges of honor for helping. Activities can include decorating Milk + Bookies-designed bookplates to inscribe their donations. After the festivities, your kid will get to deliver the bounty of books to the chosen charity, connecting the child who’s giving to those receiving, and creating a memorable experience for the entire family.

323-863-5742

Online: milkandbookies.org

photo courtesy of Access Books’ Facebook

Access Books

Access Books is a non-profit dedicated to bringing quality, high-interest books to school and classroom libraries, by taking a cue from the Pledge of Allegiance, “With Literacy and Access for All.” Think Clifford, Goosebumps and Harry Potter for everyone. The charitable organization has donated over one million books since 1999. Access Books employs young and grown-up volunteers to collect and distribute new and lightly used books to under served schools in the L.A. area, partnering with the school communities to improve, and in some cases, create and build library spaces.

A family or group of friends can organize a birthday book drive to benefit one of the schools participating in the program. The nontraditional party itself can be a crafty celebration, with the birthday kid and guests bringing books to the location and painting colorful murals alongside teachers and students at the school. The little ones are encouraged to leave  “I liked this book because…” notes tucked into the pages of the donations, connecting them to the next readers. Adults can do the heavy lifting while kiddos feel empowered when they stock the shelves of the school library with the titles they collected. With break time for sweet treats, it’s a real feel-good way to mark a milestone.

310-284-3452

Online: accessbooks.net

photo courtesy of familymwr on Flickr

Children’s Book Recycling Center

Children’s Book World, the popular and well-stocked westside shop, runs a non-profit community service project that works with literacy programs and charitable organizations to provide books to children all over SoCal. From infants to high school age, the Recycling Center accepts new and used books in good condition to aid school communities, shelters, medical clinics and tutoring programs, to name a few. Gather a collection at your next birthday event or contact the store to help facilitate a party with a purpose.

10580½ West Pico Boulevard

Los Angeles

Monday – Friday 10:00 am – 5:30 pm

Saturday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

310-559-BOOK (2665)

Online: childrensbookworld.com

— Kim Orchen Cooper