Student Task

Teachers Against Child Detention Book and Letter Drive

Do Something
Grade Level


Students choose their favorite book to share with a child their age who is in an immigrant detention center. They write a letter to a fellow student explaining why they like it and how they relate to it.


Estimated Time

One week



Sharing a book they love helps students develop empathy. Articulating why the book is meaningful to them challenges students to communicate their thoughts and feelings in writing. Participating in the Call to Action builds student awareness of the struggles young people their age face and teaches them about the current challenges and policy debates facing the U.S. immigration system.




  1. Gather detailed information about the Book and Letter Drive by visiting this website.
  2. Gather letter-writing materials, including pens, envelopes and paper.
  3. Gather packaging and mailing materials, including postage and boxes.
  4. Determine how you’ll translate letters into Spanish. Your school or district may have translation services, or you may want to consult with a foreign-language educator or connect with a community member. You might even try an online translation service.
  5. Inform families about the book drive. Explain that the purpose is to share students' passion for reading with other children.
  6. Invite families and other community members to donate the Spanish-language version of the book their child selects.
  7. Research alternatives for covering any remaining book or shipping costs.


  1. Explain to students that the books will be Spanish-language versions of their favorite books. Contextualize why Teachers Against Child Detention is collecting books in Spanish.
  2. Clarify for students that not all immigrant children are people who speak Spanish.
  3. Prepare students for the fact that their selected book might not be available in Spanish.
  4. Create an alternative plan for students whose selected books might not be available in Spanish.
    1. Choose printable Spanish-language stories from the Student Text Library.
    2. Create a picture book (with support from school translation services, if available).
    3. Send the English-language version of the selected book.


  1. Ask students to brainstorm a short list of their favorite books.
  2. Ask students to choose and rank their top three favorite books and create one bubble map for each book with reasons they like the book.
  3. Research whether Spanish-language versions of the selected books are available online or in local bookstores. Begin with the students' top choices; then, move to their second and third choices if a Spanish-language version is not available.
  4. Inform students' families of which book their child selected.
    1. Let all families know there is an alternative plan if the family is unable to donate the selected book.
    2. Inform families where they can purchase and send the Spanish-language versions of selected books.
    3. Collect the donated books and use alternative funding for any books on the list not provided by family donations.
  5. Model book recommendations and letter writing for students. Encourage students to consider their audience (other children) and present their reasons for their book choice.
  6. Ask students to write their letters and address their envelopes.
  7. Translate the letters into Spanish.
  8. Match the letters with selected books. Package books and letters and mail them to:
    Teachers Against Child Detention
    C/O Ysleta Teachers Association
    10910 Ben Crenshaw, Suite A,
    El Paso, TX 79935



  1. Create a bulletin board with copies of the student’s letters and pictures of their selected book.
  2. Invite other classes to host their own Book and Letter Drives.
  3. Visit a local bookstore and explore the availability of Spanish-language and bilingual books.
  4. Explore the classroom or school library and survey the availability of Spanish-language and bilingual books.


English language learners

Encourage students to write letters in their preferred language if they are able. Allow students to choose their favorite book without the condition of being able to read the words on the page. Support students by connecting lesson to lived experiences (e.g., These letters will be translated because we live in a diverse and multilingual society. We all speak different languages.).


Connection to anti-bias education

This task allows students to empathize and connect with children with different lived experiences. Students are motivated into action through personal connection and understanding. This task also provides an opportunity for students, teachers and families to come together as a community and model solidarity.