This program distributes brand new books and backpacks full of school supplies to low-income children in Westerly public elementary schools at “Book Parties,” just in time for the beginning of school. It was the first step undertaken by Opening Doors founders in 2013 and it has been expanding ever since.

A lack of access to books and educational materials is the “single biggest barrier to literary development.” In Westerly Public Schools, more than 30% of the children between preschool and fourth grade lack this very access. Opening Doors formulated its mission and then programs based on this premise.

“Book Parties” held in late summer or early fall welcome the children. They listen to stories read aloud, they pick out brand-new backpacks, preloaded with precious school supplies, and they choose three brand new books to “keep forever.” Volunteers welcome the children and help them put their names in their new backpacks. The happy faces of the children as they select their backpacks and fill them with their chosen books marks a promising start to the school year.

Starting in 2014, book parties reached a total of 390 children, with the goal to reach all 600 eligible children enrolled in preschool through fourth grade by June 2018. By the end of 2017, we reached 530 children. In March 2017, an additional party was held to mark the birthday of Dr. Seuss, joining in the national celebrations to promote literacy.  

With volunteer time and donations, we can keep our momentum going and realize our ambition to reach more eligible children each year. Please think about joining the fun and donate to our “Book Parties” with your time and/or contribution.