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25 Million Books and counting

In 2023, Bernie’s Book Bank distributed our 25 MILLIONTH book, a metric that is both humbling and inspiring. By partnering with 900+ Title I Schools and early childhood programs, 300,000 children across the city of Chicago, and Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties, each received a bag of 8 books. Despite our efforts, there are still countless Chicagoland children who do not have books of their own. Find out how you can help transform the story for local children.

Bilingual Impact

Our organization proudly distributed 90,000+ bilingual/Spanish books in 2022, including a custom print run of “Isabel & her Colores Go To School” by Alexandra Alessandri. This book exemplifies our Book Philosophy which mandates each bag of books contain titles that are age-appropriate, high-quality, and culturally relevant. Bernie’s Book Bank believes in providing children free access to developmentally appropriate books that will engage them by reflecting their own insight into a full range of human experiences, a concept articulated by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop in her “Mirrors, Windows and Sliding Glass Door” speech.

Major Milestone

Our goal is to serve as many children as possible. By leveraging data to pivot to a more efficient distribution model in 2022, we made great strides toward this goal. Distributing books once annually with partners, instead of twice, enables our distribution team to visit more Title I schools and Early Childhood Programs each year, and allows more time to pick up donated books. More than 50,000 children who had been waiting for books since 2017, 2018 and 2019 are now building their own personal libraries. This is a major milestone as we focus on serving every eligible child in Chicago and look towards national expansion.

Efficiency Scaled

Processing more than 2.3 MILLION books requires efficiency, accuracy, and dedication. With the support of Zebra Technologies scanners and a custom database developed by Bernie’s Book Bank team, books can be sorted by age level with greater precision and less time. With over 30,000 volunteer hours served in 2022, dedicated volunteers using scanners were able to process almost twice as many books per session. The increase in accuracy and decrease in time required to conduct quality control frees up team members who can now manage 4-5 times more volunteers per session.

“We are grateful to Bernie’s Book Bank for providing our students at Mark Twain Elementary School with bags filled with books. Your generosity is greatly appreciated and your love for literacy is contagious! Thank you for your dedication to this important cause.”

M. Boston


How Can You Help?

There are countless ways to support Bernie’s Book Bank- both big and small.
Donate books, volunteer your time, invest in the children we serve, attend an event at Bernie’s Book Book and more!

You don't have to work in education to know that there are many factors in learning to be a successful reader, but none is as important as having actual access to personal books. Bernie's Book Bank comes walking right into the classrooms on a regular basis and makes the impossible possible for these children.

Jane Vester

Librarian, McCall Elementary School