“As soon as he saw the Big Boots, Pooh knew that an Adventure was going to happen, and he brushed the honey off his nose with the back of his paw, and spruced himself up as well as he could, so as to look Ready for Anything.”

Those are the immortal words of Winnie-the-Pooh, an adorable teddy bear character made famous by A.A. Milne in a series of books in the mid-1920s, and entertaining children and children-at-heart ever since.

For those fortunate enough to be born into households where books play a prominent role, the adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh tend to be well known and visited time and again. It is this habit of turning pages – yes, real pages made of paper – that enchants readers at an early age. Pooh and his friends, along with countless other childhood characters, play a role in shaping the minds of little ones. The benefits of those stories should not go just to the fortunate.

Young children growing up in poverty are exposed to millions fewer words than their counterparts in better-off households, putting them at an educational disadvantage. The deficit can show up in children as young as 3 years old.

It is with the intention to expand the world of books for children that the Books for Kids campaign has kicked off its 23rd year. It has been a huge success. Nearly 2.5 million books have been distributed to children through schools, libraries and day care centers in underserved communities throughout Western New York.

The campaign began as a cooperative effort in 1995 by The Buffalo News, SUNY Buffalo State and Project Flight co-founders Geraldine Bard and Elizabeth Cappella. The project now includes WGRZ-TV, Wegmans and the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.

Cycling out of poverty is complicated, but not impossible. Providing children with books of their own helps instill a love of reading. That gives children access to the knowledge contained in books.
If you recognize the importance of reading, please consider helping children have that experience.

Giving is easy. Books can be dropped off at the 37 public libraries in Buffalo and Erie County, The Buffalo News at Washington and Scott streets, Wegmans in Erie and Niagara counties, Dipson Theaters, Western New York Mattress Firm locations, Raymour & Flanigan locations and Tom’s Restaurant, 3221 Sheridan Drive, Amherst.

Cash donations are also welcome. Make checks payable to: Books for Kids/Project Flight, 7954 Transit Road, PMB 205, Buffalo NY 14221.

“So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.”

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