Chatham Reads, a program of the Chatham Education Foundation (CEF), in partnership with Chatham County Schools (CCS) hosts free book fairs at elementary and middle schools in low-income communities.

Called Books on Break, the first book fairs were held in 2016 at 2 schools, and students took home close to 5,400 books. Each year since, CEF has expanded the program to reach more children. In 2024, the program served 8 locations and students took home 14,000+ books! Pre-K – 1st graders get 5 books each; 2nd – 5th get 4 books each; and 6th – 8th get 3 books each.


  • Statistics show that two out of three children living in poverty do not have books in their homes (Source: National Center for Children in Poverty, 2013)
  • More than 80% of children from economically disadvantaged communities can lose one to three months of reading skills over the summer. This can add up to 3 years of learning loss by the 5th  grade, leaving them lagging behind their more affluent peers.


  • Schools are chosen for the program based on the percentage of students who receive free and reduced lunch, as low-income families are less likely to have books in their homes or access, especially over the summer, to school and public libraries. Research shows that just 15 – 20 minutes of reading a day can make a real difference in counteracting learning loss.

  • These book fairs allow students to self-select books to read during the summer months and add them to their home libraries.

How can you help?

  • Contact Kathy Havens, Chatham Reads program director, to host a book drive or help sort books. We accept new or gently used books.