Even though Amber Keyser and I live within 15 miles of one another, we actually met more than 100 miles away at a conference on the Oregon coast. I was immediately taken by her sincerity and her dedication to the Portland writing community. It’s no surprise to me that she is also involved in other community projects concerning literacy.









Where have you been volunteering?

This fall my children and I have been volunteering at the Children’s Book Bank as part of my son’s bar mitzvah project. Tikkun olam is a Jewish concept that means repairing the world. It is an important value in our congregation and in our family. We strive to pay attention to ways in which we can make the world a better place.

What have you gotten out of volunteering?

It has been amazing to share this with my kids. In addition to weekly sessions spent cleaning and repairing books, my son ran a book drive that collected over 1200 books to put in the hands of low-income children, many of whom have never owned a single book of their own.

We’ve had fun all along the way. It was especially gratifying for me to see the kids invite their friends to join us. Nothing is better than seeing how a helping hand can multiply. The Children’s Book Bank is a great fit for our family because books and stories are such an important part of our lives. It made us happy to see many favorite titles prepped and ready to go to a new, young reader.

Amber J. Keyser writes both fiction and nonfiction for young adults. Her most recent book is SNEAKER CENTURY: A HISTORY OF ATHLETIC SHOES. Her debut novel, THE WAY BACK FROM BROKEN, will be released in the fall. Find out more about Amber at www.amberjkeyser.com or @amberjkeyser on Twitter.

About the Children’s Book Bank

The Children’s Book Bank, founded by a former Teach for America math teacher, strives to improve the literacy skills of low-income children by giving them books of their own before they reach kindergarten.  To do this, The Children’s Book Bank collects, repairs, and packages used books. The books are then made available to families in need – free of charge. This new organization is administrated by Dani Swope and is located in Portland, Oregon.