St. Bernard Parish, three miles from downtown New Orleans, was hard hit by  Hurricane Katrina. All its buildings were damaged, and all its schools were destroyed.  Amazingly, little by little, the district is coming back, and on August 11,  the last of its public schools, Andrew Jackson Middle School, will reopen with 350 students. Just in time for the BP oil disaster, you may be thinking.  Yes. This is indeed a community that  has been hit by catastrophe.  And that’s where you come in.

ReadThis is a volunteer organization of people who love books and want to spread the joy of reading.  (Truth in advertising: I’m on the board.)  We collect new and gently used books for public  schools and other underbooked  places; we’ve sent books to a pediatric AIDS center, a homeless shelter and  to  troops in Iraq.  This summer, we’ve taken on a big task: gathering 1400 books for the Andrew Jackson Middle School’s library, which was ruined along with everything else.  Imagine a school library with no books and no money to buy books!  Can you chip in by buying a book or two from the  excellent and varied wishlist prepared by the school librarian? It has lots of terrific choices, from Harry Potter to Walter Dean Myers.  As a bonus good deed, you’ll be helping the Garden District  Book Shop,  an independent book store.

Find out more about ReadThis here. If you’d like to get involved—collecting books and mailing them to the school, helping out at our table at the Brooklyn Flea on July 24 , or, if by some miracle you happen to be a publisher, donating  a box or two shiny new age-appropriate books —   email us at  For latest updates, join us on Facebook.