It’s Time to Fill School Libraries: BBF Launches 2020 Shelf Help

Submission for 2020 proposals is now open.

With the crisis that has hit our world this year, we are more motivated than ever to ensure every child has access to well-stocked book shelves.

That’s why Boston Book Festival is once again calling on the Greater Boston community to help implement our annual Shelf Help book drive, which will reach two schools in need again this year.

Many area schools lack the resources to fully stock their school libraries with contemporary, high-quality books. Our Shelp Help partnership aims to expand the library book collections at two local schools, and then work with Wondermore, a local organization dedicated to inspiring young readers, to coordinate a children’s or YA author or illustrator school visit to share the wonders of book creation with young readers! And if in-person visits are not possible this fall, we have lots of other ideas for connecting students with an author or illustrator.

Highlights from last year’s winners
Our 2019 Shelf Help winners, Orchard Gardens Pilot School in Roxbury for grades K–8 and TechBoston Academy in Dorchester for grades 6–12, were treated to fantastic visits by celebrated BBF authors Charlotte Nicole Davis and Brendan Wenzel. We teamed up with Wondermore to create lively school visits to excite kids about reading.

We are grateful to KPMG as well as to the many publishers and individual donors who helped us to fill the library shelves at Orchard Gardens and TechBoston!

Applications are open for 2020!

In 2020, Shelf Help will partner again with two school libraries! We will choose one K–8 school library and one 9–12 school library, providing a donation of new books near the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. We will be collecting donations at the twelfth annual Boston Book Festival on October 24-25.

If you know a library professional at a school that needs some Shelf Help, please forward them this Request for Proposals, which has links to a short online or downloadable application. All proposals are due by May 31, 2020.

Everyone can help put books on school shelves

You can also lend direct Shelf Help to the Boston community! If you would like to help us curate contemporary collections for selected schools, please bring book donations to our information booth at the Boston Book Festival on October 24 (in Copley) or October 25 (in Roxbury), or you can donate through our online book wish list. Email us at to receive a link to the “Shelf Help” donation site once it’s live later this summer.

If you would prefer to make a cash donation, please visit our donate page. Upon checking out, select “Make this a gift” and designate “Shelf Help” as the gift recipient in the appropriate box.

Inspiring young readers for life

With Shelf Help, we aim to support students’ discovery and expression of their voices through access to an increased selection of books within their school environment. Words have power to motivate and provoke all readers to discover themselves and their place in the world, and we hope that Shelf Help will encourage students to view themselves as literary explorers!

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