As the daughter of a librarian, books have always been important to Jennifer Williams, and when she learned that the kids she tutored didn’t have reading materials at home, it inspired her to make sure that every child in her town has plenty of books to call their own.
Williams lives in Danville, Virginia, where she is a tutor, teaches creative writing, and leads a book club at a local jail. The kids she tutors kept asking her if they could keep the books they read together, and after multiple requests, she launched a book drive for the children. Williams’ neighbors and people from her church donated books, and she was able to give away 300 titles during the summer of 2017.
Her husband congratulated her on the accomplishment, but Williams said she didn’t feel like it was enough, and told him, “I want to give away a million books.” Since then, she has distributed 63,000 books — every year, she gives one book to each student at the local elementary school, and makes sure the shelves are full in 16 free mini-libraries she set up across town. Williams collects donations, and also purchases books with her own money.
Williams told CNN she hopes her project teaches kids in Danville that reading “can take you anywhere. You can travel in time and space. If you can read, you can learn almost anything.”