USPS set to shred 'Books From Birth' books - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

USPS set to shred 'Books From Birth' books

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Books are often considered the foundation of a child's imagination and a love for reading.

The postal service recently decided to change its policy to no longer allow volunteers to pick up returned books, but instead shred them.

"They're clearly trying to get the rate increased," said Peter Abell. "The postal service is having some challenges. They're an important part of our organization. We couldn't do this without the postal service, so we want everyone to know the local postal service workers are not happy either. They're just being told this is what they have to do."

MORE: US Postal Service plans to shred 'Books From Birth' books

The books are a part of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library's Books From Birth program. A child will get a book mailed every month as a newborn until they are age 5.

"If you go to kindergarten the first day and you've never held a book, never read a book, if it's a new experience for you, you're going to have a hard time," Abell said.

Upwards of 34,000 books are mailed to children every month. Only four percent are returned, usually due to change in address. Nevertheless Abell calls the post office's decision a waste and he's not alone.

"We have several volunteers who pick those up on a regular basis," said Susan Lawhon with Le Bonheur's Family Resource Center. She said the center relies on donated books.

"They take them to schools, school libraries, they also divide some of those up and bring them here for our patients," she said.

Many parents read to their children while their child is in the hospital, but Lawhorn said the time reading not only benefits the child, it benefits the adult.

"I've had a lot of parents come to me and say, 'Do you know anything about the GED program?,'" Lawhorn said. "'I've really enjoyed reading to my two-week-old in the NICU and most of these books have come from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.'"

Lawhon and Abell are hoping the postmaster general has a change of heart, as there is one thing that is clear with the Books From Birth program.

"The classroom is better when the kids are prepared and ready to learn," Abell said.

Seeking comment, calls and e-mails to the post office's Tennessee District Manager from FOX13 News went unanswered. Books From Birth has an online petition to get the post office to reverse its policy. If you are interested in getting books for your children, you can check out Birth.Org or you can call 901-820-4501.

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