Changing the Story

Founded by former schoolteacher Chandra Perkins in 2016, Storybridge is a grass-roots organization working to get books into the hands of local children. Research shows that one of the most significant factors in a child’s educational success is the presence of appropriate books in the home. From school book fairs to a partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library—Storybridge is now the biggest Imagination Library affiliate in the state—the organization has successfully delivered more than 260,000 books to Amarillo children.

The summer of 2022 marked several big changes for the organization. “We’ve finally bought our own building,” says Perkins. With an expected move-in completion in August, the 2,400-square-foot warehouse at 4468 Canyon Drive will house all Storybridge operations. “Ideally, I want it to be a place where we can keep office hours and stay open to the public,” she says. It will start, however, as a storage facility for thousands of books.

In another first, the organization also introduced Storybridge Summer Storytimes this year, thanks to donations following the January 2022 passing of Elaine Basham, a longtime director of the Amarillo Area Adult Literacy Council. “Her family designated donations in her name be sent to Storybridge, and lots of people wanted to give,” Perkins says. “We wanted to do something creative with [those funds].”

These weekly storytimes are the result. They rotate from one city park to the next, offering snacks, crafts and books for young participants. “It’s a cool, themed storytime every Wednesday morning at 10 at a different location in town. The first 15 families to arrive get a copy of the book we’re reading aloud,” she says. Hundreds of children have been participating, and the weekly schedule is listed at storybridgeama.org.

Kinderbridge is another new program. This partnership with the Amarillo Independent School District offers free, guided playgroups for children 5 years old and younger, along with their caregivers. “One meets at Hillside North and another meets at Heal the City,” explains Perkins. “It’s partly a parent support group and partly a safe place to keep kids busy and learning. It’s off to a phenomenal start.”

Every six months looks a little different at Storybridge. “We’re lucky to be nimble enough to try new ideas,” she says. “We have more capacity and more growth. We couldn’t have tried these things three years ago but now we can. I’m really grateful.”

The organization is always seeking volunteers at its events, as well as book donations. “Start a tub of books that your kids have outgrown,” Perkins suggests. “At the end of the summer, bring them to our drop-off locations to get us set up for our school-year book fairs.” For a list of drop-off sites and volunteering information, visit storybridgeama.org. 

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