New Book Distributions for Distance Learning


Announcing our new book distribution project to reach Oakland TK-12th grade students struggling to participate in distance learning

Even as Oakland makes great strides in closing the digital divide, many students continue to experience significant barriers to participating in remote learning. Great books can go a long way to keep students engaged.

Since COVID closed school doors last March, the OLC has distributed over 18,000 books to Oakland kids through our network. And we’re not done!

The OLC invites you to partner with us this fall to get books to TK-12th grade students who are experiencing significant challenges in attending or participating in online learning and have a high need for additional books at home.

Community members, schools, community groups, faith-based organizations, and other programs that work with Oakland families are encouraged to apply! This project is focused on getting books to students with the greatest barriers to attending remote learning so we are not able to provide books for school-wide distributions (scroll down for more info).

While we do not have the ability to process book requests for individual students, we are happy to work with families or community members who wish to coordinate book distributions for groups of families. Projects reaching at least 20 students will be prioritized.

5 Easy Steps for Getting Books

Step 1: Submit a request letting us know a little bit about your plans, your students, and the number and types of books you need.

Step 2: The OLC team will review your request and follow up with any questions and let you know whether it’s approved.

Step 3: Our team will work with you to select books and can help source books that are high interest, culturally affirming, published in students’ home languages, and support social-emotional learning and academic themes. The OLC will then purchase books through one of our trusted vendors, such as First Book Marketplace.

Step 4: The books will be delivered directly to you to distribute. The OLC can support with distributions if needed, and to the extent we can do it safely. We can also provide bags and reading guides and tips.

Step 5: Once your distribution is done, please share a quick recap with us and share pictures (as appropriate and with permissions).

Important Information for Schools

The OLC cannot supply books for school-wide distributions, but can provide books to groups of students where you are seeing highest rates of absenteeism or challenges participating in remote learning. For example, if first grade is where you are seeing the most absences, we can provide books for all first graders and not just the students who have been absent. Schools are encouraged to use attendance in synchronous learning and participation in asynchronous activities as indicators to identify students to receive books.

We are limiting distributions to 150 books per school to spread resources and prioritize getting books to students who are having the greatest barriers to virtual learning. 

Apply Soon for the Best Chance of Getting Books!

The OLC will be reviewing requests on a rolling basis through the end of November or until our $10,000 in currently committed funding is spent.

You are welcome to contact us at or (510) 280-3547. Our team is working remotely so if we miss your call please leave a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

Special Acknowledgement

We extend our sincere appreciation to the family and friends of Ellen Rubin, a children’s librarian, lifelong book lover, and Oakland resident. The Ellen Rubin Memorial Fund is helping support the book distributions provided through this project.

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