Bringing The Community Together, One Book at a Time


Something magical happens when an entire community reads the same book together.

Ready for School knows that books have the power to build community. This is why the organization partnered with its local Big Read affiliate to host a special author event for the community’s youngest readers! To provide some background: the National Endowment of Arts’ Big Read program offers grants to support innovative community reading programs designed around the study of a single book. Hope College formed a Big Read Committee to coordinate across their community.

Anne Sibley O'Brien

As a part of their Big Read programming, Ready for School — along with Hope College, the Herrick District Library, West Michigan Pediatric Dentistry, and teachers from the local schools — hosted an author event with I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien. 

A nonprofit that emerged from a community initiative, Ready for School is comprised of about 5–7 employees that strive to create “communities of readiness” where all children thrive and reach their full unique potential. With the support of its many community partners, the organization prepares children, specifically those getting ready to enter preschool, for success by equipping parents with integrated support of the Holland/Zeeland/Hamilton communities of Michigan.

Ready for School I'm New HereDiversity and inclusion are integral to Ready for School’s grand vision. A community originally settled by the Dutch, the southwestern Michigan community that Ready for School supports has seen the noticeable growth of its Hispanic population in the area. 

“Time has changed what it looks like to be from the Holland area,” explained Megan Koops-Fisher, social innovations officer at Ready for School. “We’re helping children understand that even if another person looks different than you, it’s important to welcome them into the community.”

The free community reading event, “Storytime with Children’s Author Anne Sibley O’Brien,” was held at the Herrick District Library; approximately 70 people attended the event.
Koops-Fisher commented, “The event was very phenomenal! Anne was so engaging. It was so great to hear her story.”

Prior to the storytime, Ready for School dropped off copies of I’m New Here to local preschools to promote the event. “I’ve already heard back from a number of preschool teachers, saying how much they valued the book,” said Koops-Fisher.

I'm New Here Anne Sibley O'Brien

It’s amazing to see how a single story can have such a profound impact on a community. BookPal is excited to help organizations like Ready for School bring together and empower its local community. Thank you for reaching out and sharing your story, Megan!

We love to hear about how our clients are using their books to bring communities together and inspire others! Share your story by leaving a comment below.

This post was written by Elizabeth Lee, the marketing manager at BookPal. She is currently reading Onward by Howard Schultz and The Evil Hours by David J. Morris.

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