Studies show that having a home library
positively impacts a child's academic performance.

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A Message From Our Founder

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Nazlah Hassan

Born into a large family, reared in the Abraham Lincoln Houses, Harlem, NY, I am one of eleven siblings. Nine of my siblings and I shared two of the three bedrooms. Our parents provided food and shelter; books were not on their radar. The outdated collection of adult books that sat on the small bookshelf between two bedrooms, were unsuitable reading for children. Instead, I read through a five-pound antiquated dictionary, while yearning for new, colorful, picture books like the ones I saw at school and in the public library.

While reading is fundamental, it is also unaffordable to so many. Literacy is the key that opens doors to opportunities for children and families. According to the Children’s Defense Fund, in 2014, “Almost 1 in 13 children in the United States—5.8 million—lives in extreme poverty.” This statistic reveals that many families are still struggling to provide life essentials, which leaves no disposable income for children's books.

The sadness I felt living without books inspires me to work toward putting children's books into the hands of every child living without books. I believe that money should not be a barrier to literacy. All children deserve to have wholesome, diverse, and appropriate reading materials.

Beginning at age 13, during summers, I worked for several NYC youth programs and at 17, for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At 18, I worked for the U.S. Department of Treasury, for 15 years, and simultaneously enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve; during this timeframe, our eldest son was born and 4 years later, his little brother arrived. After 4 years as Chief, Homemaker, I worked briefly in the private sector and then as a full-time realtor, for several years. Businesses that I’ve established and operated include a gift shop, restaurant, and hair salon.

Because of my diverse work experience and accounting background acquired working at the Department of Treasury and in the Army, I was hired by Make-A-Wish Foundation. At the national office, I was part of a team that worked in concert, to collectively affect the lives of millions of children and families throughout the United States. The experience gained at the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the wondrous world of philanthropy is now ingrained in my spirit.

That is why I founded Gift Children Books, Inc., to serve children, first in my childhood community, and then to expand our outreach to distribute free books to all children in need, wherever they are.

In 2011, with help from two young men in the community, we transported 15,000 books and fifteen old heavy tables on three wobbly hand trucks to host the first ever Free Children’s Book Fair in Harlem. By 2014, we gifted 45,000 books to children in New York alone. In 2015, Gift Children Books, Inc. will host the 5th Annual Free Children’s Book Fair/Harlem and the 1st Annual Free Children’s Book Fair/Phoenix, in collaboration with Booker T. Washington Child Development Center. By 2016/17, we plan to extend our outreach into other areas, where children are living without books.

Our ambitious goals, to provide books and improve literacy among children from low income homes are being realized with the support and assistance of the following dedicated community activists and citizens:

  • Khadijah Amon-ra
  • Shelley Inniss
  • Batya Lewton
  • James Lyles
  • John Roscoe
  • Kariemah Shah
  • Hiram Smith
Meet our board members who work day-to-day to ensure that we reach even more children who need books.

Gift Children Books, Inc. invites you to help provide books for children living in bookless homes. Your donation will directly impact the lives of children, families, communities, and ultimately, our world.

With a deep sense of concern for improved literacy among children, I ask for your help. From the comfort of your home, via computer, please help us by making a donation today. For your convenience, you may also schedule automatic monthly gifts to children.

Would you help make it possible for every child to remove a book from the shelf of their own home libraries, to do what is fundamental for all - read?

Warmest Regards,

Nazlah Hassan