When I learned that nearly 2/3 of children living in poverty do not own books, I started my literacy initiative, Picture Book Pass it On. My intention was to celebrate picture books and encourage people to donate books to kids in need. Fast-forward, a year later, and the grass-roots effort I began has grown into something truly remarkable.

PBPiO badge

Last March, I created a special initiative to collect books for children of incarcerated parents in Iowa. I reached out to friends, online and in person, to help with the month-long book drive called MARCHing Books to Kids. The books benefit the VNS of Iowa Storybook Project. Each month, the Storybook Project volunteers record incarcerated parents reading aloud to their children. The audio CD’s and books are then mailed to their children to keep.

In just one month, we collected over 350 books, 450 incarceration-themed Sesame Street book/CD sets, and loads of books signed and donated by children’s authors from across the US and several countries outside of the US.


This year, MARCHing Books to Kids is going strong. I reached out to authors I know, and they came through in a big way! So, I thought I’d reach out to some authors I don’t know and see what happens. Well, this is what happened yesterday…

kitty covers

I was delighted to learn that Nick Bruel, author and illustrator of the Bad Kitty series, donated a bundle of his books. Not only did Nick donate his books, he signed and added a doodle inside each one.

signed kitty

Owning a book signed by an author may not seem like a huge deal. But, the children and families served by the Storybook Project would likely never know that joy.

I truly believe books have the power to change lives. I am grateful to all of the authors who have already donated books to the 2016 MARCHing Books to Kids drive. Thank you for making a positive impact in the lives of kids in need.

The VNS of Iowa Storybook Project serves children birth-17 years of age. You can post your own pledge and learn more about the project at https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO/ If you’d like to donate a new or like-new book, please mail it to the address below.

VNS of Iowa, Storybook Project
c/o Tabby Kuehl (MARCHing Books to Kids)
1111 9th Street Suite 320
Des Moines, Iowa 50314