Kids who live in Philadelphia Housing Authority buildings are starting or adding to their home libraries this week, as the PHA distributes thousands of books donated by Read by 4th and Tobias Lit Labs.

“We will put out anywhere from 50-100 books a day,” said Makeeda Holley, vice president of resident programs and partnerships at PHA. “The books are divided by age and grade on a table and the kids get to choose which books they want.”

Each child is allowed to select up to five new books for their home library.

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PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah said in a written statement that the authority is “deeply grateful” to Tobias Harris, Sixers star and founder of Tobias Lit Labs, for the donation.

“I believe that education is a game changer,” Jeremiah said. “Learning to read at an early age is the foundation for a good education.”

Since the coronavirus outbreak began in March and schools closed, the PHA has been providing breakfast and lunch at six sites for residents throughout the week.

“We already had a flow of families and kids coming to the food distribution,” Holley said, so that made the food distribution sites “the perfect place to give away books.”

Read by 4th, an organization focused on getting all children reading at grade level by fourth grade, and Tobias Lit Labs plan to deliver approximately 25,000 books to children and their families as businesses and schools remain closed.

The PHA is the first recipient of the donation; it got 5,000 books. Read by 4th and Tobias Lit Labs will give books to schools, churches and community groups.

“The hope is that during this time while kids are at home they have different books to read,” Holley said.

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