Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Maria, the Executive Director of Books In Homes USA. Let’s learn what’s happening at Books In Homes USA and how Maria is making a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Maria! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through Books in Homes USA?
Maria: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Early literacy is an essential part of a child’s overall development, but many families live in book deserts or do not have books at home. Book ownership should be a right, not a privilege. As Books In Homes USA's executive director, I work to serve children living in under-resourced communities, in literacy and beyond. The charity's vision is for every child to create their own home library with personally selected brand-new books to keep and enjoy.
Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?
Maria: Helping others and ensuring that critical resources are received is paramount. I loved books as a child, and still have some of my favorites today! That is what motivated me to join Books In Homes USA. I wanted to help improve children’s trajectories. Our goal is that children become empowered by reading, and that they have access to diverse, inclusive books where they can envision themselves in the stories. Every child should love themselves and celebrate their uniqueness knowing they are perfect just the way they are!
Spiffy: What is the impact of your work?
Maria: New books of choice inspire pleasure reading. Children become more passionate about books that they have picked themselves, so they read more frequently. That’s when the fascination happens! Literacy skills improve, and that not only paves the way to academic achievement, but lifelong success. Did you know that college graduates live longer? How do you become your own health advocate if you cannot read your own prescription? How do you drive a car? Reading extends into so many aspects of your life, so that's why Books In Homes USA gives it our all to reach more children and help them build their home libraries.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience/community?
Maria: COVID-19 changed many landscapes. The pandemic further limited children's access to books, and Books In Homes USA worked to provide continuity and distribute books along with free and reduced lunch program pick-ups. As a national charity, we strive to meet the needs of as many underserved children as possible including collaborating with partners to help provide essential needs, as well as essential hands-on resources needed to build confidence. Participants share how ‘magical’ our book events are, so we look forward to expanding our footprint each year.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Maria: We have found that our program benefits not only the book recipients but families as well. Books at home provide out-of-school literacy-rich opportunities and environments. Not all families have budgets to purchase books, and in the case of families where English is a second language, English language books with high interest and low readability, so parents may help their child(ren) learn to read in English. Children become so excited when they learn the books are free!
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Maria—it’s been an honor!
Maria Evan is a strong community-centric educator, development and advancement leader, and fierce advocate for positive and meaningful change. Throughout her career she has been a cohesive collaborator who builds trust and forges partnerships to advance education and transform communities. (Nominated by Rowana Miller at Cosmic Writers. First published on the Ladderworks website on July 17, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Shikha Tandon. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.