Books from Brek Helps Spread Joy of Reading to Champaign-Urbana Children

Brek Neiswender was a kiddo who loved books—the language, the pictures, and the stories.

In March 2016, Brek’s family created Books from Brek. In his loving memory, their mission is to spread the joy of reading, literacy development and preschool readiness by distributing new and gently used books to at-risk infants, toddlers and school-age children throughout Champaign County

Books from Brek is an important supporter and contributor to Crisis Nursery, which is why in celebration of Brek’s 6th birthday on September 12, the Nursery team would like to celebrate his memory by honoring him and the organization as our “Island of Safety” Spotlight for the month of September.

As of September 2020, Books from Brek distributed 20,000 books through the Nursery and the Champaign Library Mother Goose on the Loose program, an award-winning literacy program designed for children through age 6. The Champaign Library graciously provides space for the Books from Brek team to receive, organize, bag and prepare books before distribution.

In addition to spreading the joy of books with children, the Nursery’s playground is named “Brek Park,” a space where kiddos can have fun and enjoy themselves. The groundbreaking for the park was Thursday, October 22, 2015 (left) and the dedication of Brek Park took place April 27, 2017.

Above is Brek Park today.

The playground was made possible through donations and contributions from 242 friends and family members.

There have been 270 gifts given to Crisis Nursery in Brek’s memory, and friends and family continue to make gifts in loving memory of Brek each year.

We encourage you to check out their website and their annual newsletter to learn more.


“Books from Brek allowed me to connect with my daughter and help support her as she grew. I am forever grateful for this resource and those that make it possible.” – Dena

Dena and Riley with books supplied by Books from Brek.

Dena is a single mom who was enrolled in Crisis Nursery’s Beyond Blue program with her baby, Riley. Once Riley turned one, mom transitioned them into our Paving Pathways program. Crisis Nursery’s Paving Pathways program strengthens families by supporting interactions between parents and children, contributing to early childhood development, and preparing children for success during life’s most critical period. During home visits with their Crisis Nursery Family Specialist, Dena and Riley grew stronger in their parent-child interactions. Dena found joy in learning how she could support Riley’s development and little Riley loved learning! Reading stories and singing songs are two of the ways mom and Riley connected best. Having Books from Brek at each visit was a blessing. Little Riley couldn’t contain her excitement when seeing the new books and Dena is grateful for the opportunities it’s given her to grow in their relationship.

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