Nonprofit delivers free books to eager students in Hancock summer classes


Photo by Jessica Belle Kramer

Incoming Hancock second-grader Aubrey-Nicholson, first-grader Makenna Kessler and second-grader Moussa Moftin read their brand new books together at the Bring Me a Book event in summer 2018. Photo by Jessica Belle Kramer.

The nonprofit organization Bring Me a Book has been helping underprivileged students all over the St. Louis area, including students from south county.

Hancock Place Elementary School in Lemay began expanding its elementary summer-school program from a session in June to sessions in June and July, which offered Bring Me a Book Executive Director Michael Shipley the perfect opportunity to visit the school with the nonprofit’s brand-new book bus.

The bus brings free books to children.

Bring Me a Book has several methods of reaching out to classroom communities, but the book bus is a new concept for the organization.

The organization is “committed to eliminate the literacy gap through procuring high-quality children’s literature for under-resourced children,” according to its website. It was founded in 2006 and is a nationwide organization with a St. Louis chapter.

Since Shipley was hired as the executive director of Bring Me a Book St. Louis in 2016, he has been trying to find “creative ways to bring our message to the community and start different programs,” Shipley said.  That includes the book bus, take-home books, classroom libraries and handcrafted wooden book boxes to store the children’s new books.

In order to draw the children’s attention to the books, Shipley front-faces the covers and makes sure to mix classic, older titles with newer titles. All of the books are also new, high-quality hardback editions, because he believes children are more excited to receive a book when it’s new.

Hancock summer program administrator and fourth-grade teacher Spencer Storey saw the visit as a great opportunity.

And the children were all smiles as they picked up their free books.