Book Rich Environments

Bringing a vibrant culture of books to public housing communities

A nationwide effort launches to turn ‘book deserts’ into literary oases.

Los Angeles Times

Book Rich Environments, Fort Wayne, IN. (Photo credit: Tyrell Swain)
Book Rich Environments participants at an book give away in Fort Wayne, IN. (Photo credit: Tyrell Swain)

Book Rich Environments is a tri-sector collaboration between nonprofit organizations, national government agencies, and corporate publishers that aims to infuse public housing communities across the country with a vibrant and accessible culture of books. The initiative connects families living in public housing communities with reading-related resources, working to improve opportunities and outcomes for public housing residents.

Since 2017, Book Rich Environments has:

  • Distributed nearly 2.3 million books to children and families in public housing communities
  • Served 850,000 young people
  • Hosted over 4,100 free book giveaway events

National Book Foundation serves as the project lead, with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Education, the Urban Libraries Council, and the National Center for Families Learning serving as key planning partners.

60 HUD-assisted communities across the country serve as local partners, implementing the following three key initiative components:

  • Book Distribution – free, high quality, diverse books provided to children and families living in HUD-assisted housing.
  • Library Engagement – young people and families engaged in the love of reading and connected with the ongoing literacy activities offered by the local public library.
  • Partnership Building – strategic partnerships on the local level, established between the local public housing authority, the local library, and local literacy partners to develop and deliver ongoing community and educational programming.

The program has been made possible through the generous book donations provided by: Bloomsbury Publishing, Candlewick Press, First Book, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Sourcebooks and W. W. Norton & Company.

For more details, email Education Programs Manager, Julianna Lee Marino.

Book Rich Environments

For 2024, Book Rich Environments has partnered with 60 HUD-assisted communities across 38 states to build a strong, vibrant population of readers across the country.

144 local Book Rich Environments partners will distribute over 308,000 books to children and families living in public housing.


Book Deserts National Map BRE 2024 all sites unlabelled

Akron, OH
Albuquerque, NM
Atlanta, GA
Billings, MT
Boise, ID
Boulder, CO
Brownsville, TX
Cambridge, MA
Chandler, AZ
Chicago, IL
Cincinnati, OH
Contra Costa County, CA
Covington, GA
Detroit, MI
Durham, NC
Elizabeth, NJ
Fort Wayne, IN
Fresno, CA
Goldsboro, NC
Grand Forks, ND
Gregory, TX
Harlingen, TX
Helena-West Helena, AR
Houston, TX
Kansas City, MO
Las Vegas, NV
Leech Lake and surrounding Nations, MN
Lincoln, NE
Los Angeles, CA
Louisville, KY
Marin County, CA
Miami, FL
Minneapolis, MN
Nashville, TN
Navajo Nation, AZ
New Bedford, MA
New Orleans, LA
New York, NY
Oklahoma City, OK
Phenix City, AL
Philadelphia, PA
Phoenix, AZ
Pocatello, ID
Portland, OR
Rapid City, SD
Salt Lake County, UT
San Antonio, TX
San Diego, CA
San Joaquin County, CA
San Mateo County, CA
Sarasota, FL
South Delta (Leland), MS
Springfield, MA
Stanislaus County, CA
Roanoke, VA
Tacoma, WA
Tampa, FL
Topeka, KS
Washington, DC
Wheeling, WV




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