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I want to give my gently read children's books at Halloween instead of candy. I want to feed kids' minds, not their cavities.

Please email me when you have updates about Books For Treats.
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We're excited that "Luann" comic strip author Greg Evans created a special strip about Books For Treats which ran 10/29/09.

Spry Health magazine mentioned Books For Treats last October. This magazine is distributed to 9 million households in national newspapers.

Since Halloween 2001, we've given up to 6500 books each year to excited, costumed Willow Glen trick-or-treaters. Now-former Mayor Ron Gonzales, now-former Councilman Ken Yeager, Mayor Chuck Reed and Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio joined us in greeting the kids and happy parents. We are supported by the Diabetes Association.

We were featured in the media to nearly 2 million viewers/listerners/readers. Take a peek at some great pictures and links to some of the stories from our Media/News page. Mike Cassidy wrote a column in the San Jose Mercury News about Books For Treats, as well as in his blog. Read the article about Books For Treats published in the June/July '07 American Association for the Advancement of Science magazine.


What is Books For Treats?

Books for Treats is a program that encourages you to give "gently read" children's books at Halloween instead of candy.

Why give children books instead of candy at Halloween?

Books feed children's minds, while candy only feeds their cavities. Books encourage children to read, and parents to read with them and/or ask them about their books. Many children rarely receive books as gifts, so even gently read books are special treats.

The National Endowment for the Arts recently released a report revealing that the average 15- to 24-year-old spends seven minutes daily on "voluntary" reading. If we are to kindle children's excitement about reading before they are teenagers, they will continue the habit into adulthood.

Why would I want to go to the trouble of giving books? Candy is much easier to buy.

Do you recycle? If so, do you think it is a lot of work? No. You believe in supporting the planet by recycling materials so they don't go into the landfill. Books For Treats takes a little more time than buying a giant bag of candy, but if you believe that you can help turn Halloween from a cavity-, obesity-, diabeties-contributing holiday into one that shows that society cares about our children, then it's worth the extra effort.

Giving books instead of candy shows kids you care about them and are encouraging them to read. This not only helps raise their interest in reading, but raises their feeling that the community cares about their future.

Why is candy a problem?

Recent statistics show that annually Americans spend $950 million on Halloween candy, and that 20 million pounds of candy corn alone is purchased. The average person spends nearly $15 on the Halloween candy -- much of it being consumed before Halloween by the adults or their kids. Childhood diabetes is increasing alarmingly. Couple that with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which show that today at least one in four children are 20% or more heavier than their ideal weight. It is clear that we do not need to be giving children more candy. We need a healthy alternative -- one that "feeds kids' minds, not their cavities!"

Parents complain that their kids are hyper before and after Halloween as they eat so many more sweets than usual. Parents have to limit the amount of candy their kids can eat, which creates fights, crying and problems. There are safety concerns as well. Many parents either throw away unwanted candy or bring it to work for their coworkers to eat! Not a good solution.

Many adults find Halloween candy is a problem for them, as some eat it before Halloween, eat candy from their kids' bags, or eat leftover candy brought to work by coworkers. Just think of the favor you'll be doing for your waistline by not having Halloween candy to contend with!

How would I get inexpensive books? Kids' books are expensive!

Gather clean, re-usable, gently read children's books from garage sales, library book sales, used book stores, thrift stores, and/or by having your children contribute their outgrown books. By recycling your kids' books, you allow these books to continue to give pleasure, long after your child has outgrown them.

San Jose resident Christine Tyler wrote, "I just wanted to let you know that I have done Books for Treats at our home for the last 2 years. This will be my third year. Each year I obtain a wider selection of books. I collect them year round from garage sales, thrift stores, and library book sales. Kids LOVE it.

Many libraries hold regular book sales. Call your nearest branch to see when the next sale is. A common library-sale price is $1/inch (stack up the books and measure along the spines). You can get 2-10 books for $1, depending on their thickness, so for the price of a candy bar you can give "brain candy" instead. If you need to suppliment your own books, take inventory of how many you already have in each age category, so you'll know how many more you'll need for your trick-or-treaters. For guidance on how to tell the age levels of the books you have, download our kit, as guidelines are in it.

If you're in San Jose, branch libraries have inexpensive children's books in their Friends of the Library store.

We'll be at the Oct. 16, 2010 Willow Glen San Jose Friends of the Library book sale from 10 a.m. to noon to help you choose books for your trick-or-treaters.

Why give gently read books instead of new books? Won't kids think that is cheesy?

Kids appreciate books, even gently read books, as long as they are in good shape. You'll need to screen the books to make sure the books aren't ripped or marked up, although they may have the previous owner's name in the front and/or the stamp from the library.

Catherine Edwards shared, "I escorted five fourth grade boys trick-or-treating and they were thrilled the most about receiving a Books For Treats book. When the boys saw their friends they exclaimed 'Look at the cool book from the lady across the street!' When we arrived home, I quickly hid the bag of candy. My son Jeremy didn't even ask for the candy; he begged for the book that he received from Books For Treats!"

What will the kids think about getting books instead of candy?

Our experience is that kids, as well as their parents, are thrilled by receiving books for treats. They are much more enthusiastic than we have ever seen them when we gave candy. We have witnessed many children running to the sidewalk waiving a new treasure yelling "Mom, look! I got a book!" We also saw a group of kids standing on the sidewalk showing each other their books. And we heard one girl greet a friend coming from the other direction "Hey, this house gives books! Cool!"

When asked what she thought of Books For Treats, seven-year-old Alana said, "I like books better than candy. A book lasts a long time and candy is gone in a bite! And I can sit on my daddy's lap and read the book over and over with him."

Joan Nettesheim reported, "I offered books this Halloween. Two children were so excited they left their sacks of candy at the door and took off with the books -- they had to come back later and retrieve their candy (and they thanked me again for the books). Some of the older kids wanted to know if they could have more than one book.

"Next year I am going to do again. The kids were excited to get something other than candy and books were the treat. I just loved their looks of surprise when the 'book basket' came out and they could pick the one they wanted."

How do I get involved?

  • Gather gently read children's books to give out in your neighborhood.   
  • Download our kit to help you sort your books by grade level.  
  • Volunteer to help (fill out the form on the left)  
  • Have your company become a sponsor  
  • Make a donation of any amount through PayPal to info@BooksForTreats.org. We appreciate any funds, as they help us purchase used books, provide PR and ads to get the word out, and keep our web site up to date.
  • Talk to your friends, co-workers and neighbors about participating in Books for Treats. Send them a link to this web site.

    I have books to donate and I'm in San Jose

    You can drop off books at the Comerica Bank Willow Glen branch on Lincoln, or any of three Technology Credit Union branches, Campbell, Santa Teresa and San Jose.

    If you have a lot (over 200) of books to donate, call Rebecca Morgan, founder and Executive Director of Books For Treats, at 408/998-7977, or email info@booksfortreats.org. She'll arrange a drop off or pick up of your books.

    Will Books For Treats be giving out books again to trick-or-treaters on Willow Glen's Lincoln Avenue?

    Yes! Books For Treats will again give books in front of the Garden Theater on Lincoln Avenue on Friday, Oct. 29, 2:00-4:00 as supplies last. Come early!

    Who's supporting this program?

    This project is supported by, among others:   

  • San Jose City Mayor Chuck Reed   
  • San Jose City Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio   
  • Willow Glen Friends of the Library   
  • Marines Toys 4 Tots, Bay Area   
  • Comerica Bank, Willow Glen branch (drop your gently read children's books here)   
  • Technology Credit Union, Campbell, Santa Teresa and San Jose branches (drop your gently read children's books here)   
  • Junior League of San Jose   
  • Diabetes Society of Santa Clara Valley   
  • Willow Glen Neighborhood Association   
  • Willow Glen Business and Professional Association   
  • Irwin Herman, "The Book Man"   
  • Cucina Bambini (drop your gently read children's books here)   
  • Orange County Children's Book Festival
  • How do I give out gently read children's books at Halloween?

    Collect books. Then download our kit to help you sort your books by grade level. It has a full set of instructions on how to sort the books, how to make it easy to give books to your trick-or-treaters, and even signs for your door so kids -- and parents -- know you're a book-giving house.

    Will I be able to buy books from Books For Treats?

    In 2010 we hope publishers will provide books for this project. Simply fill out and submit the form on the left and we'll email you when books are ready to be ordered next year.

    Who else hosts a Books For Treats events?

  • The Le Mars (Iowa) Public Library is holding their own version of Books For Treats.
  • And the Carrollton (TX) Public Library is too!
  • Want to talk to someone about how you can help?

    Contact Rebecca Morgan, founder and Executive Director

    QUESTIONS? Email info@booksfortreats.org