An H-E-B bag filled with produce. Photo by Scott Ball.
H-E-B has announced one-hour beer and wine delivery throughout San Antonio. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

On September 21, H-E-B stores across San Antonio will host Read 3 “Read-Ins,” story time sessions for children from 10-10:30 a.m. to encourage the community to join together in a celebration of reading.

The event marks the 5th anniversary of H-E-B’s Read 3 program, a city-wide children’s book drive taking place in stores September 14-27. Since the program started in 2011, the annual book drives have collected more than three million books for children in low-income households.

This year, H-E-B customers and partners can drop off new and gently used children’s books in special collection bins at the stores or donate $3, $5 or $10 online. H-E-B is giving away free children’s books with special Combo Locos and Meal Deals. These books also can be donated back through the stores’ bins.

Research has shown that access to books in the home is an early predictor of childhood literacy, one of the keys to success in education. One study claimed that books in the home are as important as the parents’ education levels in determining children’s education level. Studies like this offer hope to families seeking brighter futures for their children.

However, books are not free, which is why H-E-B hopes to collect one million new books during the 2016 drive to contribute to the libraries of families who might not be able to afford new books.

The company’s efforts to increase literacy extend beyond the yearly book drive. Fourteen H-E-B stores statewide also have literacy centers where authors, storytellers, and character appearances can bring books to life for children in low-income communities. The stores provide at-home curriculum as well, in the form of interactive materials and a 12-week lesson plan for parent-led learning.

These offerings are part of Read 3, the grocery store chain’s initiative to encourage parents to read to their children at least three times per week. It is among the many educational advocacy campaigns championed by H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt. The Excellence in Education Awards honors rising and veteran teachers, principals, and districts with substantial cash prizes. H-E-B also has invested $3.6 million in the new CAST Tech High School in SAISD.

Top image: An H-E-B bag is handed out to the public.  Photo by Scott Ball. 

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Bekah McNeel

Bekah McNeel is a native San Antonian. You can also find her at her blog,, on Twitter @BekahMcneel, and on Instagram @wanderbekah.