About the Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank

little girl with a backpack holding her copy of Magic Tree House in front of her


Once upon a time (in 2014) Cleveland was a book desert. This inspired volunteer activists Judy Payne, Judi Kovach, and other to place dozens of Little Free Libraries near Cleveland’d elementary schools.

By fall 2015, the Cleveland Little Free Library Movement was supporting 60 Little Free Libraries and required an endless supply of books to stay stocked: Judy and Judi contacted an online used bookseller who was sending more than 100,000 usable children’s books to recycling every month. Our founders worked tirelessly so that these books could instead be put into the hands of children. And in early 2016, the Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank was born.

Since then we’ve diversified our book sourcing. We’ve installed 22 outdoor book collection bins throughout Greater Cleveland. Between the books from these bins and the monthly book drives held by companies, schools, and individuals, about half of our inventory comes from our community.

The rest are purchased through a combination of bulk used books and brand-new, diverse books that show characters of color (learn more about our Books Like Me campaign!).

 We’re so proud of origins and our growth—and we’re excited that our story is still being written.


five children standing in a row holding books

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Statement

At the Kids’ Book Bank, we believe in the power of literacy to

  • foster empathy
  • deepen our understanding of each other
  • broaden our worldviews
  • fuel our imaginations and inspire us and future generations

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are very important to us. We show our commitment to these issues by:

  • promoting and distributing books that reflect the lives and experiences of all children
  • investing in professional development and trainings surrounding DEI
  • continuously examining our internal processes to ensure that our actions reflect our values

In our commitment to growth and learning, we want to keep these conversations going. Our door is open, our ears are listening. Thank you for keeping us accountable.

boy with glasses circling his arms around a stack of books on a table and smiling off the right

Core Values

Collaboration: We believe success is achievable only by being collaborative with and responsive to partners, volunteers, funders, and the community at large.

Continuous Improvement: We pursue excellence by continuously reviewing and improving our policies, processes, and programs.

Equity & Inclusion: We respect all people and work to understand and break down barriers to equity within our organization and the communities we serve.

Innovation: We are creative, nimble, and thoughtful in developing meaningful ways for children to receive and enjoy books.

Integrity: We are an open book, transparent and accountable in all aspects of our organization.

Passion: We are passionate about addressing educational inequity and inspiring every child to
become a lifelong reader.

boy and girl laying on the ground reading a book together


The mission of the Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank is to foster literacy and a love of reading by distributing free books to children in need through collaboration with community partners.