Current Participating Schools
- Del Mar Elementary
- Freedom Elementary
- Gault Elementary
- Green Acres Elementary
- Hall District Elementary
- Live Oak Elementary
- Mar Vista Elementary
- Ohlone Elementary
- Radcliff Elementary
- Soquel Elementary
- Starlight Elementary
- Valencia Elementary
Birthday Books From Coco
Colette “Coco” Lazenby was a voracious reader who nearly always had a book in her hand. She was particularly fond of fantasy series, such as Harry Potter, Maximum Ride and The Hunger Games.
In August 2015, Coco was killed at age 12 in a car accident. To honor her love of reading, her parents, Kate Pavao and Aaron Lazenby, joined with Starlight Elementary Principal Jaclynne Medina to launch the Birthday Books From Coco. This unique program offers participating schools with books in English and Spanish so that all students are gifted with a book of their own choosing on their birthdays.
Birthday Books From Coco is now a cornerstone of the Live Like Coco Foundation, a non- profit focused on making sure kids in Santa Cruz County grow up healthy, and with opportunities to pursue their dreams. As of the 2020-2021 school year, we are reaching 6,000 K-6 students in 12 schools across Santa Cruz county.
Birthday Books From Coco was inspired by Richard L. Allington and Anne McGill-Franzen’s book Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap. The authors found that putting books into the hands of students from marginalized populations can shrink the achievement gap – and create lifelong learners. Birthday Books From Coco not only gives books to students who need them, but also strengthens the idea that a book is a gift.
While there are no specific socio-economic qualifications for schools to participate, many students are from families that financially struggle; at the twelve currently participating schools, between 72 and 95 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. A Santa Cruz County Civil Grand Jury report honored Birthday Books From Coco as one of six county, city and private groups making a difference, noting, “For many of these children it is the first book they have owned.”
Little Free Libraries
We are excited to partner with Diversify Your Stack SC, a local diverse book project, to give kids and families better access to a wider range of stories and experiences. Fewer than 25 percent of all children’s books feature people of color, and only 5 percent feature Latinx characters. Jennifer Willoughby created Diversify Your Stack SC in June 2020 to make sure kids could see themselves represented in books, and also build their empathy by reading about lives different than their own. Each month, Live Like Coco will supply Diversify Your Stack SC with new and used children’s books to place in Little Free Libraries (LFLs) throughout the county. Each week Willoughby delivers books to multiple LFLs, documenting her work on Instagram @diversifyyourstacksc. You can now support this powerful project through donations to Live Like Coco.
We are happy to receive used book donations and make them available at book giveaways throughout the community. During July 2021, we will host a free book giveaway every Friday at the Watsonville Farmer’s Market. We have also participated in free giveaways at Open Streets Watsonville, Pajaro Valley Pride, Run.Sweat.Love., and at our fun run, held in April each spring. Would you like us to come to your event? Contact us at email@example.com
Supporting Kids in Foster Care
We are proud of our partnership with CASA, helping provide books to kids currently in the foster care system. We help maintain the library at CASA House throughout the year, and during the holidays, provide brand new books for every child in care. Would like to host a drive to help us provide more books to local kids in foster care? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org