New Haven Reads Spreads Literacy

Volunteers help nonprofit carry out its mission through the pandemic.

Free books were widely available to children and adult readers throughout the pandemic thanks to New Haven Reads. The nonprofit also continued with its mission to increase the literacy skills of children through individually tailored one-on-one tutoring by moving its sessions online.

While forced to close its Book Bank for much of the year, on fine weather days it set up carts outside for people to take books home. The organization also continued to process online book orders, and distributed books to readers of all ages through food pantries, partners such as IRIS and open houses for teachers. In total, New Haven Reads gave out more than 32,000 books during their fiscal year 2020-21.

It recently reopened The Book Bank, located at 45 Bristol St. New Haven, for in-person browsing on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 12:00PM – 4:00PM.

The pandemic also encouraged New Haven Reads to explore new avenues for distributing books. They conducted virtual field trips with schools that allowed students to go “book shopping.” The organization also conducted a school-wide book giveaway with Ridge Hill School in Hamden for a special literacy celebration day, and is developing a new program with the Milford Office for the Department of Children and Families called “Bonding Through Books.”

A screenshot of a tutoring pair reading together online. Photo credit: New Haven Reads

In normal years, New Haven Reads offers one-on-one literacy tutoring and early literacy programs at four locations in New Haven. With the onset of the pandemic, the organization pivoted the program to an online model, and was able to work with 284 students thanks to the dedicated support of 248 tutors every week.

New Haven Reads is supported in part by a three-year, $100,000 general operating grant that was awarded by The Community Foundation in 2020.

Read the New Haven Reads profile on for more information.