MONTEREY COUNTY — Read to Me Project is conducting a book drive to gather 2,000 new and gently used books to be given to local children during the holidays in Monterey County.

Book donations are needed by Oct. 31 and may be dropped into a Holiday Book Drive barrel located at BookWorks, 667 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove; Downtown Book and Sound, 213 Main St., Salinas; and River House Books, 208 Crossroads Blvd., Carmel. Online purchases may be shipped directly to Read to Me Project, P.O. Box 6434, Salinas, CA 93912. 

Historically, the Read to Me Project has hosted a Holiday Gift Wrap event every year in December for students in the program. During the event, students being coached to read aloud to their youngest family members by a Read to Me Project program coordinator were provided with new books from which to choose and wrap as a holiday present for the little one at home. 

Last year’s event was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and as a precaution, it will not take place again this year. Alternatively, a book drive is being held to collect books that will be given to every family whose children are in the Read to Me Project this year.

Books for babies and particularly for children ages 7 to 12 are needed by Oct. 31 to allow time for packing and distribution to 82 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade classes throughout Monterey County, including those in South Monterey County communities. 

Books in English or Spanish and fiction or non-fiction will be accepted. Young Adult, textbooks and religious books cannot be used. A wish list of desired books can be found at

“Alarmingly, nearly 80% of children in Monterey County enter kindergarten unprepared for school, according to First 5 of Monterey County, and most will never catch up,” said Mary De Groat, Read to Me Project director of development and marketing. “The Read to Me Project is dedicated to increasing the number of students who are successful in school and ultimately graduate high school with proficient literacy skills. These outcomes create a positive impact on the socio-economic aspects of the community, less reliance on social services and reduced crime.”

The Read to Me Project is an innovative early literacy program that is reaching children not accessed by other support programs. It is based upon the fact that 85% of brain development occurs during the first five years of life and that early engagement and enrichment stimulate brain development. 

“The program takes place in the home and is child-led — sibling to sibling,” De Groat explained. “It builds nurturing family relationships and provides literacy enrichment to children 6 months to 5 years old while improving the student readers’ language and reading skills.”

The Read to Me Project is primarily funded by grants and donations. For more information, go to, email [email protected] or call 831-275-1300.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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