Alexa was 10 years old when she first heard about “summer slide,” which occurs when students lose important reading skills during summer vacation. Alexa learned that students in low-income communities are particularly vulnerable to this effect, because they tend to have limited access to books and learning opportunities when school is not in session. Over time, this lack of access can lead to wide gaps in reading skills and lower literacy rates. Alexa took action by creating Bags of Books, a program that collects new and gently used books at collection sites, including schools, religious institutions, and businesses, and distributes them to children in low-income communities. In five years, Alexa has engaged hundreds of volunteers, including teachers, students, and service organization members, to assist in collecting, sorting, and distributing more than 75,000 books to students in need. Bags of Books hosts “pop-up” bookstores in schools, where students select books and take them home to kick-start their own personal libraries.
Bags of Books has also donated thousands of books to under-resourced school and community libraries. Alexa is working now to expand Bags of Books nationally through a partnership with the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) charter schools. Bags of Books is also aligning with large companies to host internal book drives. Alexa’s goal is to make a tangible impact on education equality by promoting literacy and fostering a love of reading in children of all ages.