A good book can be a window into another universe, an escape that many of us appreciated during the state’s stay-at-home order. A pair of teenage girls in the San Fernando Valley decided to spend their time during the pandemic collecting books and distributing them to organizations like Child Care Resource Center so more kids would have access to books, regardless of their family income.
Charlotte Smith, 15, and her 16-year-old sister, Alex, started up what they call The Bookworm Project in September.
“Every so often, I go through my bookshelf and clear out books,” Alex says. “We had nothing else to do during quarantine, so we thought why not start a big network of donating. We have people in our neighborhood with lots of books to share and no time to sort through them. And Los Angeles Unified School District has so many kids in need.”
The Agoura Hills sisters reached out to various libraries, schools and teachers to collect spare books.
“I get done with school earlier but only Alex can drive, so we would just go out and get the books when she was done with class,” Charlotte says. “Otherwise, our mother would drive. It’s been a bit of a family undertaking.”
When they were deciding where to donate their massive collection of books, the girls learned about CCRC and the agency’s many programs designed to strengthen families and support child development.
“We were researching child care programs and we saw CCRC has a huge literacy program and we knew the books we work hard to collect would end up in the right hands,” Alex says.
The girls donated about 30 boxes – around 5,000 books – to CCRC for our Home for the Holidays event, which provided a holiday meal, books and toys to about 2,000 local families.
“We’re always filling up our garage with books,” Alex says. “Seeing it empty and knowing we spent all that time collecting books so some kid will open it and appreciate it and read that book over again, like wow, it doesn’t matter how much time it takes, it’s going to make someone so happy.”
“It feels so nice to give back,” Charlotte says. “Many kids love reading and books expand their knowledge but not all can afford them. It’s heartwarming to be able to give back.”
Since September, Charlotte and Alex have donated a total of 8,000 books to CCRC for distribution to local children who may not otherwise have access to new reading material.
They say the plan to continue collecting books and distributing them to kids in need through The Bookworm Project even after the pandemic ends.