Every child should have access to books.
That’s a core belief of Alex and Hannah Laman and it’s what led them to found Adopt A Book, a local nonprofit organization that works to ensure children in need have access to books—and have books of their own.
Alex and Hannah, sophomores at Loveland High School, were in third grade when they learned through a news article that not all children have access to libraries. “We didn’t understand how this could be,” Hannah says. “We both love reading so much and we wanted to do something to share that love of reading with other kids.”
For the Lamen twins who are avid readers, their desire to “do something” resulted in founding and running Adopt A Book and the collection and donation of more than 160,000 books to over 100 schools and organizations serving kids in need over the past seven years—in addition to delivering books to kids directly. They confess in the beginning it was difficult to be taken seriously because of their young age, “but once Adopt A Book received our 501(c)3 and our board of directors was formed, it became less difficult,” Alex says.
On Feb. 6, Alex and Hannah received the 4C for Children Champions for Children: The Next Generation Award. The award, sponsored by Schueler Group, honors high school students in grades 9-12 who are taking action on behalf of the children of our community.
Vanessa Freytag, president and CEO of 4C for Children, told Alex and Hannah their nomination application rose above the others submitted because of the “breadth and impact” of their work. “We know in the work we do in early childhood education how important books are to early learning,” she said. “Through your work, you are…setting children on a path to future success.”
Both siblings have been hands-on in running the business, with support from their parents Brent and Angela. The organization has grown exponentially since its founding, growth both Alex and Hannah attribute to social media, word of mouth and making connections in the community. Today they provide books to agencies such as HeadStart and the YWCA’s HIPPY program.
In their “spare” time they continue to promote literacy as sponsors of a Little Free Library on the Little Miami Scenic Trail in Loveland where books can be shared at no cost. This past year, they have expanded Adopt A Book’s services to providing bookshelves and helping create personal reading spaces for children at local organizations.
When asked about their future, they both smile and say they are discussing how to continue Adopt A Book’s work while moving on to college. “We really love what we are doing and we’re working with our board of directors to figure out what happens when we graduate high school and head to college,” Hannah says.
So much has happened since they first read that news article seven years ago. But what has remained the same is why they began Adopt A Book in the first place: their deep love of books and desire to share that love with children.
“Each November we have a table at the Fall Feast at the Duke Energy Center,” Alex says. “We bring several thousand books and hand them out to the kids. We love watching them receive and open up their very own book. That’s what Adopt A Book is all about.” Hannah add, “It’s why we do what we do.”
During the award ceremony, the Laman’s were also presented a gift for their high school. During the 2019-20 school year, 120 students will be able to participate in a 10-week Budget Challenge financial literacy program, a gift made possible through the generosity of ProperLiving, LLC, and its founders and owners David and Palmira Buten.
Budget Challenge uses patented simulation technology and modern financial tools such as online banking and electronic bill-pay to immerse students into the daily life of a typical young adult living independently for the first time. Each student gets a regular paycheck, a bank account, a 401k savings account, and bills to pay throughout the 10-week simulation. Both Alex and Hannah will be eligible to take the course during their junior years.
The work and impact of Adopt A Book’s mission will be celebrated at the 4C Champions for Children Gala presented by US Bank on Saturday, March 16 at the JACK Cincinnati Casino.
Pictured above: The founders of Adopt A Book join with 4C and The Schueler Group representatives following the youth award presentation. Pictured are: Jill Warman, 4C board member and gala co-chair; Alex Laman, Adopt A Book; Vanessa Freytag, 4C president/CEO, Hannah Laman, Adopt A Book; and Margaret Drexel, Schueler Group.
View the Youth Award Presentation from Feb. 6, 2019: