Our founder, Gary Odom established Bedford Falls Toy Shop in 1987, specializing in quality toys, books, and manipulatives. Almost from the beginning, customers requested high-quality books for their children’s reading pleasure, and Southeastern Educational Toy and Book Distributors was established the following year. Subsequently, Bedford Falls Book Fairs was established in 1990 after we began providing book fairs for independent schools in surrounding communities. We could have never imagined the journey on which we were about to embark.
Aligning with our values to provide each child with high-quality books, the opportunity to play a critical role in literacy events thrilled us. Bedford Falls began providing self-select literacy events in 1990. Our first event of this kind was for Smart Start, an early childhood program funded by the State of North Carolina. We delivered a well-stocked pop-up store in a school cafeteria setting for a weekend event with local childcare centers in the Charlotte /Mecklenburg Region. Through the Smart Start voucher program, over 300 childcare centers participated, purchasing over $1,000,000 in books and manipulatives for their onsite libraries. From these beginnings, we have grown our offerings to include school events and book fairs from Georgia to Baltimore, literary logistics, and book deliveries to a wide variety of not-for-profit organizations and school districts.
Bedford Falls cares for children and the community. Whether looking at the early days when Dr. Odom stepped away from a university classroom to start his first educational toy store, or years later, when Bedford Falls was called upon to build and execute a literacy program for Title I Schools in Hall County, the spirit of stepping up to make a difference has always been a defining mark of what we do. Now in our fourth decade, we continue to pursue ways to positively impact the lives of children and the communities in which they live. This is the heart of Project RISE. The acronym R-I-S-E stands for Reading Inspires Success in Education. Project RISE was born from our many experiences serving students through our book fairs and literacy programs as we strive to place ability-appropriate quality books into the hands of young people.
With several years of success behind us, we are hungry to make an even bigger impact. We believe that every child ought to have access to quality books and grow to appreciate the indispensable skill of reading. As pointed out in Peter Afflerbach’s Teaching Readers, we also believe that motivation and inspiration are vitally important to attaining these goals of at- or above-level reading competencies. Project RISE develops unique and creative solutions to serve struggling readers. Please contact us to see how we can tailor our products to your needs.