Close-up photo of a book being read by a woman and young girl

Reading Is Everywhere

A community-wide effort to support literacy

School-age children spend 80% of their waking hours outside of school, but 61% of families in under-resourced neighborhoods have no books for the children in their homes. Lead to Read KC is working to improve those numbers by distributing books through multiple channels.

During the 2023-2024 school year alone, we distributed 34,661 new and like-new children’s books, but it’s about more than just the numbers. We curate our offerings to ensure the best possible selection is available for each child, no matter where they connect with us. Learn more about our work and how you can help below.

Community Distribution

Lead to Read KC strategically places baskets of books in places where children are often waiting to encourage reading outside of school. Children can select a free book to take home, and Lead to Read KC replenishes the baskets with new titles each month.

View all our publicly accessible basket locations, including dozens of social service agencies, salons/barbershops, restaurants and more.

Reading Is Everywhere basket in laundromat

“It’s hard to convey what a blessing the books are to the children who come to One City Cafe. They don’t have much materially, and it brings amazing smiles to their faces when they choose a book to keep!”


One City Cafe at Bishop Sullivan Center

School Gifting

Lead to Read KC also leverages its partnerships with schools to gift books:

  • Reading Mentors select titles from our collection twice a year to give to their students.
  • Our Outreach Team brings a selection of free books (and games!) to school literacy nights.
  • We partner with the 15 and Mahomies foundation to provide books to all the students participating in Read for 15. (Watch the video to share the joy!)
  • Reading For Life author visits include free copies of the book for each student.
  • We add new, high-engagement books such as graphic novels to classroom libraries.
Happy mother with two toddlers and free books for each

Direct Outreach

In addition to our robust community and school distribution programs, Lead to Read KC also provides books year-round through community events, including literacy fairs and neighborhood festivals.

Ways to Help

Contact Outreach Program Manager Linda Hughes at for more information.


Shop from a curated list via our Amazon Wish List or purchase from a local retailer.


Hold a book drive at your school or office to collect new and like-new children’s books.


Help process book donations at one of our Second Saturday Sorting events.


Schedule a one-time team volunteer event to help sort, process and deliver books.

Get Involved

We need you! There are so many ways to be part of the solution to our community’s literacy crisis. Choose to give your time or resources to Lead to Read KC.