Books 2 U encourages children to read for personal enjoyment and to become library users. Library staff and volunteers bring high-interest paperbacks to classrooms and other sites that serve children. During their visits, they present short, high-energy "booktalks" designed to excite children about the paperbacks. The booktalkers also register students for library cards and promote library services.
Books 2 U is made possible by The Library Foundation with major support from JFR Foundation, the William D. and Ruth D. Roy Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation, The Herbert A. Templeton Foundation, Olseth Family Foundation, Jackson Foundation, Henry Lea Hillman Jr. Foundation, and the OCF Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation. The Library Foundation and its donors have invested over the past several years to more than double the program's reach, from 10,000 in 2004 to 26,500 in 2016.
Highly trained volunteers visit selected 3rd-, 4th-, 5th and 6th-grade classrooms in Multnomah County. Each of the 48 schools in the program receives a visit and new books four times throughout the school year.
Library staff and volunteers make visits every other week to various agencies that offer summer-long programs that serve at-risk children — from babies to teens. The children can listen to booktalks, check out Books 2 U paperbacks and participate in the library's Summer Reading program.
Library staff and volunteers visit 17 different nonprofit sites once a month for booktalking visits. Started in 1995, this program serves children in kindergarten through middle school. Nineteen more sites receive innovative monthly deliveries of tubs that contain videotaped booktalks and carefully selected books. Books 2 U maintains collections of high-interest fiction and nonfiction books that are circulated through the various locations the program serves. Some Multnomah County libraries also feature collections so children visiting the library will recognize the titles.
- To present entertaining and informative booktalking programs that will encourage students to read for personal enjoyment and to "practice" the reading skills acquired in school.
- To reach targeted language and cultural groups with information on the library and its services.
- To reach more elementary school students more frequently and increase library usage.
- To promote library services and programs for students and their families.