Santa Barbara Education Foundation’s Open Books Project Delivers 5,500 Books to Young Readers

The Santa Barbara Education Foundation (SBEF) proudly announces the successful distribution of books through the Open Books Project, a literacy initiative that aims to foster a love of reading among young students in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. Through the generous support of donors, the project distributed 5,500 new books to Transitional Kindergarten (TK) through 3rd-grade students in 12 elementary schools.

Launched to coincide with the district’s adoption of its first new literacy curriculum since 2007, the Open Books Project equips students with the resources necessary to develop lifelong reading habits and foster a culture of reading that extends beyond the classroom.

“The district’s commitment to develop lifelong readers and ensure all students become proficient readers by 3rd grade is aligned to the generous support and commitment from Santa Barbara Education Foundation to transform student learning,” said SB Unified Superintendent Hilda Maldonado.

Over the past year, SBEF worked to ensure that every TK-3rd grade student in the district received two new books to take home. This initiative, designed to encourage family reading time, promote literacy, and help students build their home libraries, was made possible through the generous support of donors and a crucial partnership with Louis Torres and his bookstore, Lantern Tree Books.

Students eagerly received their new books at the Open Books Project’s final book distribution event of the school year at Roosevelt Elementary School. Feedback from both students and teachers highlighted the initiative’s positive impact.

Roosevelt Elementary TK teacher Allison Throop shared her students’ excitement. “These are our youngest learners, at the age of four going on five. My class was so excited to receive the free books and instantly came back the next day with wonderful tales of being read out loud to by their families.”

The selected books meet key educational standards and include bilingual options, allowing families to enjoy reading together. Students from Throop’s class had glowing reviews about their new books. “I loved the color book because it had a lot of colors in it,” said Eddy. “My Mom read it to me!” While another student, Leo said, “I liked it because my mom read it. Just like Story Time!”

Adams Elementary School Principal Kelly Fresch also praised the initiative, sharing, “This will not only contribute to family engagement by including our parents in sharing a love of reading about topics students are learning about in the classroom, but they will also provide our youngest students with two books for their home library. We are ever thankful.”

SBEF Executive Director Pedro Paz expressed his satisfaction with the project, stating, “The Open Books Project represents our commitment to supporting literacy and education in our community. We are thrilled with the outcome of this initiative and grateful to all our donors and partners who made it possible. We hope to continue to inspire a lifelong love of reading and learning among our students by providing these books.”

Founded in 1985, the Santa Barbara Education Foundation promotes private support of Santa Barbara’s public education system, serving over 12,500 students in 21 schools. For more information, visit

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