DC writer starts book drive for children separated from families at the border

Washington, D.C.-based writer Elizabeth Ballou last week started a book drive for children separated from their families at the border as part of Trump administration policies.

The project is called 2,000 Libros, and Ballou is partnering with local organization DC Books to Prisons to send Spanish-language and bilingual books to shelters where children are being detained across the country.

{mosads}Kristin Stadum, a DC Books to Prisons board member, said the organization, which typically delivers books to local incarcerated populations, joined forces with Ballou because it was a natural extension of what they already do.

“We know there were thousands of children being held prior [to the family separation policy],” Stadum told The Hill. “But with the escalation of the number of kids being held … we thought it would be a good correlation with the work that we already do.”

“We’ve seen, from the feedback we get from prisoners, that books really make a difference to people,” Stadum added. “They help them escape the situations they’re in. They help them live another life.”

The book drive was first reported by local news outlet DCist.

Ballou told DCist she started the charity in response to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which resulted in the separation of thousands of children from their families at the border.

She said she is in contact with many representatives from U.S. detainment centers, and many have told her they need books for children ages 8 to 14.

“All of the [employees at the shelters] that I’ve talked to … [say they] do need books, especially bilingual books,” Ballou says. “That’s the biggest request I’ve been getting, so that kids with shaky English can read the English text on one page and the Spanish text on the other.”

Though President Trump last month signed an executive order calling for an end to the family separation policy, federal agencies are scrambling to reunite children with their families. The administration said last week around 3,000 children are still in detainment without their parents.

The Justice Department on Monday said they could not meet a court-ordered deadline to reunite migrant children under 5 with their families.

Now 2,000 Libros is encouraging people to donate through two online wishlists, one through Amazon and one through D.C. bookstore Politics & Prose.

“Books are a small way of showing these children and teens that many other worlds exist,” the Politics & Prose wishlist introduction says. “Hope, love, happiness, and wonder are available at the turn of a page.”

The book drive started at the beginning of July and has received 66 books for donation so far, Stadum said.

Updated at 3:17 p.m.

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