Free books for children in subsidized housing were donated by the National Book Foundation | Provided, Chicago Housing Authority

Children in Austin and across Chicago who live in subsidized housing can pick up free books, a gift from the National Book Foundation.

At least 32,000 free books are available for families who live in Chicago Housing Authority’s public housing sites or who receive rental assistance through Housing Choice Vouchers, commonly referred to as Section 8.

Families can find a selection of books spanning all ages and interests, including books for babies and toddlers, young children and young adults. Near half of the books feature characters representing people of color and diverse communities, including African American, Latino, Asian and LGBTQ+ characters and themes, said Kristen Hamer, CHA’s director of corporate and external partnerships.

On Chicago’s West Side, families who have an appointment at the CHA’s satellite office can pick up books for their children at the time of their appointment. Books also are also distributed through the CHA’s summer programs and CHA’s property management offices and satellite offices.

Families cannot make an appointment solely to pick up books; however, they can pick up free books and coats at the CHA’s upcoming “Operation Warm” event. The event is open to all families who have at least one child on their lease born on or after Jan. 1, 2009. At the Oct. 21 event, the CHA will distribute 12,000 books and other resources to families who benefit from public housing. Registration is required.

The initiative stems from a national partnership between the National Book Foundation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The “Book Rich Environments” program’s goal is to get as many books as possible in the hands of children and families who receive housing benefits, said CHA CEO Tracey Scott in a news release.

To register for the “Operation Warm” event, visit