Kelsey Butler believes every child deserves a home filled with books to practice and enhance reading skills, comprehension and creativity.
What started as a project over a Christmas holiday, has now turned into a full-fledged Chattanooga based nonprofit. Kelsey graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in elementary education. From a very early age, Kelsey always knew she wanted to work with children. She’s extremely passionate about children and literacy so in 2016, she joined our CO.STARTERS for Causes cohort to turn her project, HomeBound Books, into an organization.
HomeBound Books is a book donation program that provides elementary students with the resources they need to continue reading outside of the classroom. As a student teacher, Kelsey found that many students she interacted with did not have books at home, and that sometimes school libraries can prohibit students from taking books home for long periods of time. Literacy and reading comprehension are crucial factors during the elementary stages of learning and allowing students to have ample time to digest and comprehend lessons and stories is what Kelsey and HomeBound Books has set out to do.
Since inception, HomeBound Books has partnered with several local businesses, making it easy for donors to drop off books. From restaurants (like Feed Table & Tavern) to retail shops (like Merchants on Main), Kelsey has steadily increased the drop-off locations around the city of Chattanooga, encouraging business owners and community members to bring reading back home.
HomeBound Books’ mission is simple: to allow students to continue to practice and enhance their reading skills outside of the classroom. In schools where HomeBound Books is represented, students are encouraged to “check out” books to take home and read to themselves or aloud to a parent. There’s no check-in or check-out process and unlike the library, there aren’t any fees or penalties for returning books late. With that freedom, students can enjoy books for as long as they need. With both book donations and monetary donations, Kelsey is able to offset the costs of books that don’t quite make it back to the shelf so that she is able to keep her focus on lowering the barrier to reading at home.
CO.STARTERS for Causes allowed Kelsey to network and continue growing her idea. Earlier in 2018, HomeBound Books was approved by the IRS to officially become an official 501c3 nonprofit. Currently, HomeBound Books is represented in a number of Chattanooga schools including Brown Academy and East Ridge Elementary; the hope is to continue growing HomeBound Books in more schools throughout the city. HomeBound Books’ ultimate goal is to start a reading program that works in tandem with the book lending program.
CO.STARTERS for Causes is a nine-week program that helps individuals put ideas into action, turning a passion for bettering the community into a sustainable and thriving endeavor.
Kelsey enrolled in Causeway’s CO.STARTERS for Causes program to network and gain knowledge to help with her business, HomeBound Books. HomeBound Books is a nonprofit book donation program that provides elementary students with the resources they need to continue reading outside of the classroom.