Books N Bags Program

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COLUMBIA -- Books N Bags, a new reading program founded in Columbia, emphasizes giving kids choices to try to inspire early literacy development.

“True learning is all about ownership. We learn something when we want to learn it. If someone tells you to learn it, you might learn it, but when there is a desire to learn it that is when we really see them take off,” Beverly Bourdin, the program's co-founder, said.

Bourdin said starting reading early is key.

“The foundation of almost everything we teach in school begins with reading. Starting that process early really helps students be successful later on in life,” Bourdin said.

The process starts with a bag. They are made of repurposed or recycled materials. Nancy Adrian, a co-founder of the program, said the bags really do make a difference. 

“We have all kinds of bags... We have tons of designs from superheroes to bugs to sparkly ones. The kids really enjoy getting the chance to pick out whatever bag they like best,” Adrian said.

Once the kids select bags, they are led by a volunteer to the books.

“We have all kinds of books. Everything from sports, to princesses, to animals, to bugs. The kids just love picking out their books,” Adrian said.

The focus of the program is to give the kids a choice in their reading selection.

Kamden, a kindergarten student who participated in the program, picked a book about sea animals.

“I picked this book about animals because I like animals. I like it because then I can learn about all the different animals in the ocean,” Kamden said.

West Boulevard Elementary School was the first school to welcome the program. The program's leaders hope to expand to other Columbia area schools.

“We want to expand this and reach as many children as possible,” Bourdin said.

The program runs off of donations and volunteers.

If you’d like to donate material for bags, books for children, or volunteer your time you can do so by emailing

The next event is set for November.