In celebration of World Book Day, the Amazon Books store in Marina del Rey partnered up with The Book Foundation to provide hundreds of books for youth living at the Pacific Sunset Bridge Home in Venice.

On Friday, representatives from The Book Foundation were invited to an in-store shopping spree where they were able to pick out a wide range of titles to stock a ‘book nook’ at the center. Many of the chosen books were requested by the residents themselves, who are all formerly homeless or at risk of homelessness.

“It’s great because we’re able to provide books for people that might not necessarily have access to the ones that they want right away,” said Irina Bekker, Amazon Books employee. “It’s a great event and I’m very excited we are doing this because everyone needs access to books. They are an essential part of learning, expanding your horizons, and understanding that there are so many perspectives out there in the world.”

The Pacific Sunset Bridge home provides interim housing for 100 men and women in a large white tent and 54 transitional-age youth (18 to 34) in bungalows. The book nook is designed with the center’s youth population in mind as the Book Foundation’s mission is to promote literacy by bringing books to low-income homes and underserved children.

“We believe that literacy is the key to opportunity and without access to great reading material you’re already behind,” said Ruth Stalford, founder and executive director of The Book Foundation. “This book nook is not just a lending library, it’s also a take home library. Some of these books will actually be the first book that residents get to keep and they’re incredible titles.”

According to Stalford, most underserved communities are “book deserts” and the literacy rates of children growing up in homes with no books is on average three years behind that of children in homes with lots of books.

The simple act of bringing a book into the homes of underprivileged youth has been statistically shown to increase literacy rates. The Book Foundation foundation strives to provide as many books to vulnerable and underserved communities as possible by working with Title 1 charter schools, foster family agencies, and supported housing programs.

The Sunset Pacific Facility is the first bridge home to receive a ‘book nook’, and the organization seeks to replicate this at other bridge housing facilities across Los Angeles. The books not only provide an enjoyable entertainment outlet, but by strengthening residents’ literacy, they also help improve residents’ employment prospects.

Clara@smdp.com