P-D Readers Don't Think Homeless People Deserve Books for Christmas

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​It started off innocently enough. The St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance had a meeting to discuss holiday plans. It came up with Hope for the Holidays, a book drive sort of like the one Left Bank Books had held last year: In addition to their other purchases, customers could buy a book for a Good Cause, which the store would wrap and deliver on the appropriate day. But instead of giving the books to public school students, the Alliance decided to make their donation to the Gateway 180 Homeless Shelter.

Jane Henderson, the Post-Dispatch book critic, posted the information on her blog. It didn't take long for the gentle, kindhearted P-D readers to start stirring up a shitstorm.

​Now Jarek Steele, co-owner of Left Bank Books, has responded in a post on his personal blog.

The reason the Alliance chose Gateway 180, Steele explains, is because it has Bedtime Story Time every night:

The folks at this particular 110 bed shelter read to the kids every night because, according to Jenn Gauthier-Lyke the Development Director, when families become homeless, the everyday family structure breaks down. The moms they serve come from abusive relationships and virtually no support network. They're freaked out. Playtime and bedtime stories get lost in the day to day struggle to find a place to rest their and their children's heads.

Can you believe it? These books are actually going to be read, instead of used for toilet paper or re-sold for extra cash.

Steele concludes:

People without homes are still people. They are not their homelessness. The books we give these folks will give them some dignity. Isn't that valuable, too?

Now that we've cleared that up, we'd like to add that ten stores in the Alliance are participating, and that the shelter has specifically requested books with African-American themes, though all children's books are welcome. If you need a recommendation, ask a bookseller. That's what they're there for.

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I know plenty of area homeless people and consider many of the residents of the riverfront camps to be close friends. Reading is a popular source of entertainment. I have never met anybody that treasures the Post or is waiting for Jake Wagman's newest article at the encampments, strangely enough. 

Bruce Campbell
Bruce Campbell

Yes the people in the homeless shelter are homeless. That has to suck. I am sure that between the Salvation Army, the United Way, and the local food banks, (who also need love and support this holiday season), the people at Gateway 180 will  have basic survival needs met. Great. What the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance is trying to do, is help meet other needs. The books are going to be read and enjoyed at night. Who knows, maybe being read to or having the books around will spark an interest in learning for a child or his mother that will lead to that family finding a job, a home. What better for this holiday season than to provide that hope?


Angry Post-Dispatch readers really came out of the woodwork: A whole six reader comments that are critical of the book drive, including two posted by the same user and one that wasn't opposed to books for homeless people but thought "bookstores sponsoring a book drive by asking you to buy a book and donate it is like Best Buy having a television drive and asking you to buy a T.V. and then donate it."


Don't count the Salvation Army as a group that is helping the area homeless. They showed up at Hopeville long enough to make empty promises of supplies arriving within the hour. That was this summer, they have not been back yet.


dont act like every single story that gets posted on pd's website doesnt get flooded with ignorant, hateful, racist comments.  you dont even have to put forth effort to find plenty of stl's most entitled judging and insulting others.  its disgusting but not-at-all surprising since you'll find those types anywhere you look in this city.

the real irony with this story, though, is that you'll always find just as hateful comments on the rft's website, especially when race is brought up

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