Books for Ownership

RIF wants to ensure you have all the information and resources to effectively implement Books for Ownership whether in one school, one site, or across many. Here you will find all the
information you need.

If you still have a question, please send us an email.


Books for Ownership is RIF’s flagship program that has brought over 400 million books to over 40 million children over the past 50 years. These are several key requirements for implementing a Books for Ownership program:

  1. Sign a Letter of Agreement (coming soon) with RIF to implement Books for Ownership in your school or community.
  2. Order books from the RIF Bookstore for your book distribution events. (Make sure you already are a registered member of the RIF Literacy Network and have your RIF ID readily available to log in).
  3. Hold at least two book events in your school or community over a 12-month period.
  4. Distribute a minimum of two books per child.
  5. Incorporate Literacy Central’s digital resources in your book distribution events or supplementary classroom activities.
  6. Provide timely program data about your Books for Ownership events back to RIF National.


To determine the estimated cost of implementing Books for Ownership at your school(s) or site(s) you should account for:

  • The number of children served
  • The number of books given to each child (required to give at least 2)
  • The cost for any incremental activities incorporated into the event (for example, an author appearance)
  • The costs associated with the location of the Books for Ownership event site
  • The cost for any refreshments served
  • The cost of setting up the event (such as banners, posters, etc.) and cleaning up

Some of the costs associated with Books for Ownership can be covered through volunteers (time or donations), but most of the cost, especially the book purchases, will be covered through your fundraising. RIF National is also now offering Books for Ownership grant opportunities.


Hosting a Books for Ownership event should be both fun and educational. You are making a significant impact on the literacy skills of the children in your community and these events can anchor your efforts and showcase to the children and community the importance of reading. We have found that the most effective means of implementing Books for Ownership include these key components:

  • Choice and ownership:

    Every participating child should have the opportunity to choose and keep two to five free books per year. For some children these may be their first books, and we have found that children are much more inclined to read the books they select.

  • Fun literacy-related events:

    At each book distribution event, volunteers motivate children to read with engaging activities designed to get kids excited about books and reading.

  • Family and community involvement:

    RIF encourages all programs to engage family and community members as volunteers, guest readers, and literacy supporters. Adults are wonderful motivators and strong role models for reading.


  • Coordinator

    You will need to designate one Coordinator to oversee all of the details. This person will be the liaison with RIF National and is responsible for the day-to-day RIF activities including book ordering, book event organization and implementation, and volunteer recruitment.

  • Volunteers

    RIF volunteers can include parents, teachers, school administrators, librarians, students, retirees, service groups, local business employees, and RIF alumni. Volunteers assist the Coordinator by helping to select and order books, organize book events, read books aloud, tell stories, plan reading activities, publicize the local RIF program, and assist with fundraising.

  • Students

    Children choose books to own and participate in exciting motivational activities designed to encourage them to develop a lifelong love of books and reading. Books for Ownership is a strong program for any community but especially in high needs areas that are most in need of additional support for literacy development.


RIF National wants to ensure that your book distribution events are a success. If you are new to Books for Ownership or just looking for some fresh ideas or best practices, below you will find suggested events, activities, and digital resources.

Event Location Ideas

Below are some examples of event locations that have proven effective over the years. Please feel free to implement one of these ideas or one of your own.

  • School Gymnasium

    Holding a Books for Ownership event at the school gym has proven to be an effective location for school-based events. The space is usually large enough to set up the various tables for displaying the books. A gym is also large enough to accommodate a book distribution event for multiple classrooms while incorporating activity stations.

  • School Cafeteria

    The school cafeteria has also proven to be an effective location for a Books for Ownership event. Before or after the school lunch period provides an ideal time for holding the event. Similar to a school gym, there is lots of room for multiple classrooms and areas for activities.

  • Community Center

    A community center is often accessible during times when school venues are unavailable. A center also has the advantage of more easily accommodating parents and other family members and may provide a larger, community presence for the event.

Make sure you follow approval procedures to secure these locations. In the case of the community center, there may also be fees involved. For school-based events, be sure to work closely with the school administration or the PTA to secure the location.

Motivational Reading Activities

Getting children motivated to read is more art than science. An essential component of a successful Books for Ownership event is to have motivational reading activities that engage a child’s imagination. Here are some ideas that have been effective over the years. The types of motivational activities that occur at these events are endless. No two Book for Ownership events are the same. We encourage you to incorporate some of these ideas into your event, and if time is available, during your classroom instruction when using one or more RIF books.

  • Read Alouds

    One of the tried and true reading activities at Books for Ownership events is the read aloud. This provides an ideal opportunity for someone from the school or community (a teacher, parent, or even a local author) who is adept at reading to children to provide a highly engaging experience. The most effective read alouds are interactive, involving the students with questions about the book being read.

  • Costumes

    Encouraging children to dress up as their favorite story character creates a highly engaging opportunity for them to discuss the books they have read. Having educators and parents participate and also dress up reinforces how literacy is a shared experience that transcends age.

  • Arts and Crafts

    Setting up stations with arts and crafts materials can provide a great outlet for students to express themselves before, during, or after the event. These types of activities are especially supportive of visual learners, providing them a way of describing or showing what they have gleaned from a story or book.

Literacy Central

RIF’s digital destination, Literacy Central, has thousands of free support materials for many of the books you will distribute as part of Books for Ownership. Literacy Central’s resources can be used as motivational activities or as additional content to support the book. All of the resources on Literacy Central are free and include videos, games, lesson plans, and other content. In addition, we suggest you let the parents know about this resource so they can work with their children at home.

Download Event Tips

Want to share your ideas for event locations and motivational activities? We’d like to hear from you.