BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Outside Katie Wiebe's home is a little free library. There are more than 20 other ones in Shafter where people can give and take free books.
"It's kind of a fun, really organic thing to just sit back and observe and be a small part of," said Wiebe.
Wiebe was a teacher for four years before staying home with her three sons. She says reading to them made her especially passionate about literacy.
"There was something that clicked for me about the value of reading to children. The value of not just the words on the page but the connections that we can build around books."
Wiebe now manages literacy programming at Grimmway Academy Shafter using the library, guest readers, and book fairs to get kids excited about reading. The nonprofit First Book provides inexpensive, new books for these types of events - something Wiebe says makes all the difference in a child's growth.
"If there are barriers to getting books, there are barriers for kids to learn how to read. So as many of those barriers as we can remove, we can help kids learn and grow and thrive."
Not every child has easy, reliable access to books. Wiebe says First Book allows her to change that.
"We often will purchase books from First Book and we'll do giveaways at the school and whatever we have left we'll use to fill little free libraries."
She and her family also used First Book to host a Halloween giveaway.
"We thought that they would think we were the worst by not giving out candy but they have loved it and we have loved it."
Wiebe says reading is crucial for the children in our community and First Book helps spread her love for literacy with others.
"Connecting passionate adults with children and books can just lead to a really exciting and thriving community."