Social Media: Multiple Pathways to “Make Way For Books”

68e96967e54a860231593fe8389c3e85With the love of reading and children’s literature at heart, the Make Way For Books (MWFB) mission is “to foster and support the success of children in our community through cultivating a love of books and reading.” But how do they do this? Besides their work in the community at various preschools, libraries, and the annual Tucson Festival of Books, teaching the importance of reading to children daily, MWFB connects with their audience by various social media portals. MWFB uses Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest.

Perhaps they take some social media advice from Dr. Seuss:

some-tips-from-dr-seussBut Melinda Englert already has a strategy that is working. She writes that “each social platform engages a different audience (though some may overlap somewhat). Facebook largely engages our families. We are actually trying to build more engagement from families who are attending our programs regularly and use Facebook both as a way to show people what we are doing and to keep families connected and updated about opportunities to attend MWFB events. I would say Facebook is the platform on which we are most active.” But they also use Twitter “to engage both younger audiences (teens we are working with in a partnership with Tucson Unified School District) as well as many other organizations and professionals.” Melinda told me, “We are continually learning more about how we can make social media work for our audiences—to reach, engage, and inform the families, educators, partners, donors, and volunteers we work with. For example, we are creating a video blog that will more actively engage people with our videos hosted on YouTube.”

James Howe recommends several tips on how a nonprofit organization can benefit from social media, but it seems that MWFB already knows these tips. They are very professional, authentic, and personable. I’ve seen them at their tent during the annual Tucson Festival of Books, all smiles and happy to share the benefits of literacy and wonderful books. Howe writes “people have relationships with people, not with organizations” and MWFB is completely brilliant with this. The organization’s volunteers thrive on reading to and with children in person on a regular basis. And because they already center around their community in Southern Arizona, they already apply James Howe’s fourth rule that “social media is about community” and it’s evident that “with community it is possible to achieve something bigger than you could as an individual.” Because of MWFB, according to their most recent annual newsletter, “Over the last 15 years we have served over 150,000 children and parents, placed 226,405 books into homes, and provided programs and opportunities for children to fall in love with books and reading” and they credit the volunteers, donors, board members, advocates, and staff. After fifteen years, MWFB is a proven community constant.

David Milgrim's parody of the 1947 classic "Goodnight Moon"
David Milgrim’s parody of the 1947 classic “Goodnight Moon” shows the prevalent mix of children’s literature and technology.

James Howe concludes his list with how added value is crucial when using social media and MWFB often provides useful tips for parents and caregivers to use with the children in their lives. Also, using social media and tagging posts appropriately leads the intended audience (which is any- and everyone!) to take advantage of their tools and perhaps even come to the organization’s aide, which is to arm our youth with the power and love of reading.


Helene Soloman writes that social media “means conversations, not one-way traffic, and honest writing, not pre-packaged messages,” and this is evident with Make Way For Books. They push out invites to the public for participation in the form of feedback and also reading- or book-based events. Barbara Fagan-Smith writes in her article that while the tools to connect to people (social media) have changed, the fundamentals have not when she writes that “face-to-face communication remains the most powerful and effective way to connect and inspire people.” Social media is an added value and extended outreach to what MWFB already offers so many children in Southern Arizona.

Make Way For Books is an organization that has done its social media homework. The organization has paved multiple pathways to inform and teach parents how to read to their children and to give children a love of books and reading that will pave a road to a bright future. So, as the company proclaims, they do indeed and in multiple ways, “make way for books!”


Works Cited

Fagan-Smith, B. (2014). The changing role of the communication professional. IABC: CW bulletin Fagan-Smith.

Howe, J. (2014). 10 social media basics every nonprofit needs to know. IABC: CW bulletin Howe.

Make Way For Books. (2013). Make Way For Books: The early literacy resource center: 2012–13 annual report. Retrieved from:

Solomon, H. (2014). Social media for nonprofits. IABC: CW bulletin Solomon.

11 thoughts on “Social Media: Multiple Pathways to “Make Way For Books””

  1. Hi Dawn!

    I think you are certainly on the right track with your most recent blog, “Social Media: Multiple Pathways to ‘Make Way for Books.'” I have some compliments and questions for you.

    When I first visited this reading, I noticed the featured image of “Goodnight iPad” sits on top of your piece, and then reappears after your title. Do you think your piece would benefit if the image didn’t appear so stacked? The image itself is relevant to your piece, as are all the images you chose, so I’m wondering if using the same image twice presents a distraction to the reader. Try it without the first placement, and see how that looks.

    Also, since your title is “Social Media: Multiple Pathways to ‘Make Way for Books,” I was really, really impressed by your choice to include an image of books that are literally a path through the woods. The image illustrates your very topic. Great find! I did notice, however, that most relevant image was the last to appear in your piece. Why not move it to the top so it’s closer to your title. Maybe you could swap the placements of the book pathway image and the smaller “Goodnight ipad” image.

    You appropriately linked MWFB’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest pages. This really helps your reader gain a fuller, more relevant understanding of your blog and the services that MWFB provides. But because you have yet to interview a social media representative for MWFB, why not use MWFB’s social media sites to do your own analysis of each platform. What about the MWFB Facebook page is effective, and how is it more or less effective than their Pinterest page (or just as effective as their other social media sites), for example? Also, you can evaluate MWFB’s social media sites by interviewing someone who doesn’t work for them. How about another viewer or customer?

    You perfectly included mention of Howe, Solomon, and Fagan-Smith, and I think you effectively used their words while drawing relevancy to your blog.

    Overall, nicely done!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Dawn,

    Great use of images. I think they are all appropriate and they work well with your topic. You did a really nice job tying in the course readings with your topic and the organization you chose to write about. It certainly does seem that they have a good foundation at managing their social media sites. They seem to know what they want and are working toward attaining their goals.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dawn,
    Your use of links integrates well with your text and provides the depth of information that blogs could(should) have. I’d like to see a few more links in the latter part of your post because there are some interesting ideas to pursue there, such as when you discuss Solomon and Fagan-Smith.


  4. Dawn,

    It’s obvious that you admire Making Way for Books and their ability to use social media. However, I don’t think you arrive to your conclusion with a lack of support or evidence. Last blog, I found that many of our classmates struggled with linking material from our previous module – this in turn stole from their ethos and can be easily avoided. On the other hand, this particular blog is excellent due to its style and reliance on outside material. I specifically liked how you structured your interview as more of an article with little drop quotes here and there. It definitely breaks up the monotony of question and answer.

    If I had any suggestions, I would recommend cutting some of the images from your blog. Although they are stylish, they hardly lend to the reader’s understanding of the material. Images like the book in the shape of the heart and the dated painting of a man on a ladder do little to reinforce your ideas; I would argue that taking screenshots or photos of MWFB in any capacity would be far more useful. Imagine if you had used an example and could refer to the image that demonstrated your idea.

    Anyways, great blog, Dawn. Keep up the good work.


  5. Dawn,

    Wow! You make me want to get involved with this organization and help to further their efforts. Great job drawing me in as your reader! I really like how you used an organization to show specifically how social media can be used effectively but cannot replace the “face-to-face” interaction that Fagan-Smith writes about. It is rather an avenue to face-to-face conversation than a substitute for it.

    You’ve successfully created an uplifting post, talking about the genuine efforts of this organization, while conveying strong ideas on how to use social media as an organization. Great work! Now I’m going to go look up MWFB!



  6. First of all, I love your visuals. Thank you for your post and I think you asked some excellent questions during your interview. Great job. Thank you for being so diligent and entertaining in your blog.


  7. Hi Dawn,
    I found this piece really engaging. i was surprised to see that you noted the different audiences reached by the different social media outlets used by Make Way For Books. I often find that people and groups that I follow tend to repeat the same information almost verbatim on the different sights. I like that MWFB attempts to modify the approaches across the platforms.
    I also really liked your uses of images in this post. They either reinforced your examples with images or acted to give the reader a break before you moved onto your next post.


  8. “Today you are you, and that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is you-er than you.” That’s really it, isn’t it? Sometimes people may be intimidated by social media at first, when they’re learning how to use it, and also it can ironically be socially isolating, or it has the potential for it, if we fail to also meet face to face. However I agree that it can do work on keeping families connected. I live abroad, and it is one way I can see how my family is doing and add to my understanding of their story and their perspective.

    I just love the photo you finished with, of the man on a step ladder in that immense library. It reminds me of my favorite childhood movie, the Neverending Story.



  9. Dawn,
    Your image of the pathway of books meandering through the trees grabbed me and pulled me into your blog! I was encouraged by the comments you included from spokespeople from the Make Way for Books such as Englert, who notes that Facebook reaches out to families, which I have never considered before, but one could definitely argue the truth of it. Facebook has been around long enough that many people use it exclusively as a way to share family photographs and stay in touch. Fagan-Smith’s assertion that face-to-face interaction is still the most powerful human connection was also a great quotation to include. I liked your perspective of aligning digitial technology with print because it reveals a very broad platform of human interaction and carries a hopeful, inclusive tone.



  10. Hi Dawn,

    I think this post brings together two really interesting topics: the importance of books and the prevalence of social media in children’s lives. The reason I think these two topics are so interesting together is because I often think that social media is one of the main reasons kids (and students and adults) don’t read much anymore! I mean, I’ve even noticed it in myself. I used to carry a book with me everywhere, and now, as long as I have my iPhone with me, I’m easily entertained while waiting for the bus or in line at the post office.

    This post has me particularly curious about e-books and kindles, and how they might be used a long with social media! I think it might be awesome if MWFB could have links directly to books on their social media page. The Goodnight iPad illustration is what made me think of this. Maybe some combination of iPads and social media sites can work together to get students more interested in reading books.


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