DEEP RIVER — Community bookstore Bennett’s Books is piloting a program that will allow students from low-income families to take home a free book every week until the end of the year.
Colin Bennett, the owner of the bookstore, said he wanted to make books available to children and families who might struggle to afford them, as a way of benefiting the community.
“We really want to just make sure that as many people are reading as possible, because it’s so important,” said Bennett.
The program will be open for children ages 15 and younger, Bennett said. Parents or children who want to participate can go to the bookstore and fill out a form that includes the child’s name, town and birthday. He said that he is not asking parents or children to provide any proof of income or personal information.
He said he was currently reaching out to the local schools and the Youth Service Bureaus in the hope of reaching more children and families.
“The struggle I think is just to get the word out to the folks that need it. They might not come into the bookstore to find out about it firsthand,” he said.
Bennett said that he was able to do the program thanks to the donations he received from the community. The store is currently able to provide free books to about 25 children. He said that the store has “hundreds” of children’s books, since children’s books are one of the categories that the bookstore actively collects.
In order to expand the program’s reach, Bennett is asking for sponsors who are willing to donate. Full sponsorship for the year is $25, but the store will accept any donation size.
Bennett said that he is considering expanding the program in the future to include collecting school supplies for children from low-income families, or possibly doing a partnership with local restaurants in which students who read a certain number of books get a free coupon, for example, to a pizzeria.
“We’re always looking at ways to just make things fun and share the love of books,” he said.
The bookstore is located at 171 Main Street in Deep River.