South Charlotte

40,000 used children’s books needed

Joni Killian of Carolina Premier Bank writes a letter to a future Promising Pages bookworm at the Ballantyne Wellness Fair.
Joni Killian of Carolina Premier Bank writes a letter to a future Promising Pages bookworm at the Ballantyne Wellness Fair.

Ballantyne Corporate Park is hoping to collect 40,000 plus used children’s books over the next week and needs your help to make it happen.

The 16,000 employees of the Corporate Park participate in community service projects throughout the year, but the Books for a Brighter Future drive promises to be one of the most impactful projects to date.

The books will be given to Promising Pages, a local nonprofit, to be used in their newest program, Books on Break (BoB). Promising Pages volunteers will clean the books, sort them and then distribute them in pop-up book fairs in 8 to 12 schools just before winter and summer breaks. Students will visit the fairs and get to choose three to 10 books to keep, and hopefully read, over the winter and summer breaks.

“This will be the largest single book drive in our history,” said Promising Pages Executive Director Kristina Cruise.

“We are partnering with Read Charlotte and PricewaterhouseCoopers on the BoB initiative and we hope to prevent the ‘winter and summer’ slide by keeping kids reading over the breaks.”

While used books may not seem exciting to some children, Cruise says kids who don’t have books at home are thrilled at the prospect of getting the books and sometimes, the more worn, the better. It’s all in the presentation.

“We tell them, ‘this is a good book because another kid older than you loved it. They outgrew it and now they want you to have it.’ They love to see names in the front of the books and imagine the children that owned the books before them,” said Cruise.

In addition to the pop-up book fairs, Promising Pages makes frequent appearances at Crisis Assistance Ministries, with mascots Erm the Bookworm and Erma the Bookworma in tow, to give out free book presents to children who are waiting with their parents.

They also hold Magic Book parties at selected schools where children are magically transformed into bookworms by reciting the bookworm oath and then being presented a magic reading carpet and used books to take home. They commit to reading 10 minutes each night, and some even get book buddies (handmade pom-pom worm creations) that they can read aloud to.

Cruise says notes and letters of encouragement are tucked into some of the books to get the children even more excited and committed to reading on a regular basis.

At the recent Ballantyne Corporate Park’s Wellness Fair, Sara’s YMCA Togetherhood volunteers and Corporate Park employees created book buddies and wrote letters to the “soon to be bookworms” that will join the 1,200 Promising Pages bookworms already reading in schools across the county.

“A lifetime of opportunity starts with a love of reading and we are so grateful to the Charlotte community for making this unprecedented event a reality,” said Cruise.

Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer:

Want to help?

Join Ballantyne Corporate Park employees in cleaning out attics, closets and bookshelves for books your kids have outgrown. Collection bins will be available in Corporate Park building lobbies through Nov. 9. Monetary donations are also being collected with every dollar providing a book for a child in need. More info on donations and templates to create your own letters and reading buddies for Promising Pages may be found at For more information about Promising Pages visit