United Way of San Diego County and Warwick’s Celebrate Read Across America Day with Month Long Virtual Book Drive for San Diego Students in Need


Media Contacts:        

Ann Marie Price

Scatena Daniels

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Photos and assets courtesy of United Way of San Diego County

Local companies and individuals invited to donate new children’s books to help the nonprofit reach its 1,500 collection goal by March 12

SAN DIEGO (Feb. 3, 2021) — To commemorate National Read Across America Day, United Way of San Diego County (UWSD) in partnership with Warwick’s in La Jolla with the support of Holman Enterprises, GEICO, and Noble Street Advisors will host a month long virtual book drive from February 15 through March 12, 2021. Local companies and individuals are encouraged to donate new children’s books to help spark the love of reading in students throughout San Diego County. At the end of the virtual drive, UWSD and Warwick’s hope to collect 1,500 books to increase children’s access to books at home and foster a generation of diverse readers. All books will be donated to San Diego children in need to help enhance their home libraries. The National Education Association’s (NEA) Read Across America Day is the nation’s largest celebration of reading, and expects more than 45 million readers, both young and old, to pick up a book and read.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected families experiencing economic hardship, in turn threatening the educational success of children. Whether it’s online or hybrid learning, many families have been forced to adapt to new systems and routines,” says Nancy L. Sasaki, president and CEO, United Way of San Diego County. “Before the pandemic, many San Diego families were already struggling to meet reading requirements due to lack of time and access to resources. We know the difficulties our community is facing when it comes to reading at home. Our virtual book drive will help alleviate the battle parents and students are experiencing by making books available in the home.”


Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 45 percent of San Diego County’s third graders were not reading at grade level, and that was before school closures and virtual learning exacerbated inequitable access to high-quality learning opportunities. On average, students could lose five to nine months of learning by the end of June 2021. Students of color could be six to 12 months behind. While studies show that enhancing a child’s access to books at home has a significant impact on their long-term learning, many students in the San Diego County community do not have enough age-appropriate books in their home libraries. Below is a list of diverse age-appropriate books requested for the UWSD Virtual Book Drive.

“Books have the power to connect us, enlighten us and sweep us away with wonder. In our diverse San Diego community, all children need to see themselves and the richness of their cultures reflected in the stories we share, and give them a glimpse of another person’s circumstances to ultimately build bridges that make our community stronger,” says Stacey Haerr, children’s buyer, Warwick’s. “Read Across America gives Warwick’s and our community an opportunity to celebrate the importance of diverse stories, encouraging children everywhere to dive into books. Put a book in a child’s hand and you’ve opened a gateway to imagination, exploration, and countless possibilities. Who wouldn’t want that?”

Another innovative way the organization fosters literacy is through its “Readers in the Heights program, where UWSD and its community partners – including City Heights Community Development Corporation, Karen Organization of San Diego, Words Alive, San Diego Council on Literacy, City Heights Weingart Library, Fleet Science Center, and Traveling Stories – collaborate to close learning gaps and provide summer reading opportunities for students and their families. When schools and after-school learning programs moved online, the Readers in the Heights team realized a need to shift its model to keep students excited about reading. Parents of participants reported that, on average, over the course of the Readers in the Heights summer literacy initiative, they read more frequently with their children and for longer periods of time than they do typically. UWSD anticipates that these changes in reading habits will positively impact students’ reading performance over the course of the school year.

In addition to donating a book, financial contributions can also be made directly to UWSD to help the nonprofit support childhood literacy and close learning gaps. Learn more about how to support UWSD’s efforts and its virtual book drive at uwsd.org.

Book List

Picture Books (Ages 2-7)

  • All are Welcome, Alexandra Penfold
  • We are Water Protectors, Carole Lindstrom
  • Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, Derrick Barnes
  • Jabari Jumps, Gaia Cornwall
  • Ohana Means Family, Ilima Loomis
  • My Papi Has a Motorcycle, Isabel Quintero
  • The Day You Begin, Jacqueline Woodson
  • El Dia En Que Descubres Quien Eres (Spanish), Jacqueline Woodson
  • Julian is a Mermaid,Jessica Love
  • Eyes that Kiss in the Corners,Joanna Ho
  • I Talk like a River, Jordan Scott
  • Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon, Kat Khang
  • I’m Not a Girl, Maddox Lyons
  • Last Stop on Market Street, Matt de la Pena
  • Milo Imagines the World, Matt de la Pena
  • Ultima Parada de la Calle Market (Spanish), Matt de la Pena
  • Most Days, Michael Leannah
  • Drawn Together, Minh Le
  • Bunheads, Misty Copeland
  • I will Dance, Nancy Flood
  • Gracias Omu! (Spanish), Oge Mora
  • Hike, Pete Oswald
  • Magnificent Homespun Brown, Samara Doyon
  • Mixed Me, Taye Diggs
  • Popo’s Lucky Chinese New Year, Virginia Loh-Hagan
  • Dreamers, Yuyi Morales

Middle-Grade Readers (Ages 8-12)

  • Amal Unbound, Aisha Saeed
  • Refugee, Alan Gratz
  • My Brigadista Year, Catherine Paterson
  • Kira Kira, Cynthia Kadohata
  • Everything Sad is Untrue, Daniel Nayeri
  • From the Desk of Zoe Washington, Janae Marks
  • New Kid, Jerry Craft
  • Birdie and Me, JM Nuanez
  • King and the Dragonflies, Kacen Callendar
  • Isiaih Dunn is My Hero, Kelly J Baptist
  • Tristan Strong, Kwame Mebalia
  • Prairie Lotus, Linda Sue Park
  • Clean Get Away, Nic Stone
  • Yo, Naomi Leon (Spanish), Pam Munoz Ryan
  • Mananaland (Spanish), Pam Munoz Ryan
  • Ways to make Sunshine, Renee Watson
  • Inside Out and Back Again, Thanhha Lai
  • The Night Diary, Veera Hiranandani
  • When Stars Are Scattered, Victoria Jamieson

Young Adult/Teen (Ages 12-18)

  • Concret Rose, Angie Thomas
  • Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
  • Hora de Brillar (Spanish), Angie Thomas
  • Dreadnought, April Daniels
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Saenez
  • Clap When You Land, Elizabeth Acevedo
  • The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo
  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Emily Danforth
  • They Called Us Enemy, George Takei
  • From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun, Jacqueline Woodson
  • Turtles All the Way Down, John Green
  • You Should See Me in a Crown, Leah Johnson
  • Pocho (Spanish), Matt de la Pena
  • Something In-between, Melissa de la Cruz
  • If I Was Your Girl, Meredith Russo
  • Forward Me Back to You, Mitali Perkins
  • The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Patrick Ness
  • Internment, Samira Ahmed
  • I Love You So Mochi, Sarah Kuhn
  • The Absolute Story of a Part-time Indian, Sherman Alexie
  • Legendborn, Tracy Deonn


For 100 years, United Way of San Diego County has aligned with partners to address inequities in the region and help underserved communities. United Way’s specialty lies in identifying sustainable, long-term goals and achieving them through leveraging data and partners’ expertise to better understand root causes and putting impactful solutions into action.

United Way’s work, in partnership with others, uses shared goals, innovation and proven practices to transform the lives of children, young adults and families in the San Diego region. United Way focuses on educational milestones, such as kindergarten readiness, third-grade literacy, high school preparation, and college and career pathways. Learn more and get involved by visiting www.uwsd.org, Facebook, Twitter, or by calling (858) 492-2000.