September 2023

Emmet Manheim was passionate about a lot of things that are well-documented: roller coasters, skateboarding, skiing, the Simpsons, family and friends.  But a lesser-known fact is that Emmet loved to read.  Often, we would "catch" him reading late at night, cackling under his covers at the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid or asking us questions that came up in his "I Survived" series.  Some of our favorite moments were reading together.  (I have a favorite memory of reading Roald Dahl's BFG to him and we laughed and laughed at the line "“'Meanings is not important,” said the BFG. 'I cannot be right all the time. Quite often I is left instead of right.'” ) 

Two years ago, on what would've been Emmet's bar mitzvah (and birthday) on October 23, Emmet's Book Drive was born.  In his memory, Jeff and I ran a massive book drive to collect brand new books for Stamford Public Schools to create classroom libraries, increasing kids' access to independent reading books.  

The response to our annual request has been extraordinary: in the past two years, over 11,000 books were donated to the 13 elementary schools in Stamford. 

Schools created incredible spaces like "Emmet's Book Nook" and we saw photos of teachers "shopping" for books for their classrooms.  Teachers showed their classes a short slideshow about Emmet (see below) so kids could learn a bit about him.

Perhaps the best story of all: Jeff and I were at Stop and Shop a few weeks after the first book drive.  We were wearing our "Emmet's Playground" masks, and a little boy--maybe 7 or 8--ran up to us and exclaimed, "I know Emmet!!  He's the boy with the books!"  We knew then that we were indeed spreading the light and joy that Emmet brought into the world and that part of his legacy would be providing books to kids throughout Stamford....and maybe beyond Stamford one day. 

As an English teacher, I know how critical it is for children to have a wide variety of choice in the books they read: it is indeed the key to becoming a lifelong reader.  And as a mom, I know how much joy reading brought to Emmet and will bring to the children who receive these books.  

This is our third year doing Emmet's Book Drive. We will again focus on filling the classroom libraries in the Stamford Public Schools upper elementary grades, with a focus on 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. The booklist has been carefully curated for these grades.  Every book donated will have, on the inside cover, a sticker that says "Book donated in memory of Emmet Manheim." While each of these books is a gift to the classrooms, it is even  more of a gift to us, as we know that Emmet will be remembered in such a meaningful way. 


We do the book drive every year during the month between the day Emmet died (September 25) and the day he was born (October 23). Doing this mitzvah during that especially painful month reminds us of the joy that Emmet brought to us and to so many others. This year, because of Jewish holidays, we started early--on the day of his yartzeit (the date on the Hebrew calendar that he died) and we will come together to sort the books on Sunday, October 22 at Temple Beth El in Stamford to prepare them for delivery to the schools throughout the following week.


If you are ordering from Amazon, simply click on "Order books" on this page and it will bring you to our Amazon wish list of books.  Once you place your order, you will have the option to have the books shipped to "Emmet's Book Drive." Click on that and the books will come straight to us.  Easy peasy. Don't worry about ordering books that have already been ordered: we have 13 schools and each school will need multiple copies. Also, please fill out the gift card so that we know who sent the books!

****Please make sure that you do NOT order Kindle versions of the books--we will not get them!  

VENMO!  If you can't decide what book to buy, let me decide!  Send your donation to @Lisa-GoldsteinManheim and I will order books wholesale from Scholastic.  Stretch those book dollars!!!

Thank you Elm Street Bookstore in New Canaan!

Like last year, we are excited that Elm Street Bookstore in New Canaan will carry the books on the curated "Emmet's Book Drive Booklist." You can support this local book store by purchasing books there.  They will hold onto the books to be collected for sorting day!


Elm Street Bookstore will be holding a kickoff party on Friday night, October 20, where they will donate 10% of all proceeds from any book you buy to Emmet's Book Drive (it can be any book you buy; it doesn't have to be a Book Drive book!)

Coalhouse Pizza (Stamford's BEST pizza) will donate a portion of their proceeds to the Book Drive if you dine in or order on Tuesday night, October 10, 2023!  Jeff, Oz and I will be there starting at 5pm!  NEW: Coalhouse Pizza is generously auctioning off their incredible pizza truck.  Bid on this for your next event!

Sorting Day! On October 22, we will sort all the books we collected and get them ready for delivery to the schools. Contact me at if you're interested in helping!

New in 2023: Thanks to Northeast Elementary School in Stamford for partnering with Emmet's Book Drive!  We look forward to shopping at the Northeast Book Fair for new books for Emmet's Book Drive!

UPDATE: Westover, Stark, and Davenport Elementary schools have also partnered with us. It's a WIN-WIN!!!  

The Stamford Bombers Little League team transported all the books (over 7000 of them!) from our home to our sorting site!  

Newbery Medal Author Jerry Craft stopped by my house (!) to sign some of his award-winning books.  He is a Class Act, just like the title of his amazing book!  This is about a month before Emmet's little brother, Oz, was born. 

If you'd like to donate money to the book drive instead of ordering books, all funds collected will be used to purchase books and shelves for the classroom libraries. You can Venmo me @Lisa-GoldsteinManheim and please note "Book Drive."

Newfield School created "Emmet's Book Nook" to showcase the books that were donated in Emmet's memory.

Mayor-to-be Caroline Simmons stopped by to help sort books!  

A community project and a little publicity!

While it started as collecting books in our garage, the book drive wound up being a community project.  Players and parents from the Stamford Bombers Little League team came to our house and brought the hundreds of boxes of books to Temple Beth El, where they would be unpacked and sorted for the schools.  Over 75 volunteers, many of them Emmet's friends, came to help!  Then, members of the National English Honor Society at Stamford High School picked up the sorted books and brought them to the 13 elementary schools.  

The Stamford Advocate covered our story:

Stamford Advocate Article


This is the slideshow that teachers showed their classes so they could get to know a bit about Emmet.