A COVID-19 Book Drive to Promote Summer Literacy

June 20, 2020

Story by Parker Johnson. Photos by Jack Helms. Video by Darien Clark.

When a community is faced with turbulent situations, we will adapt our way of life to protect the ones we love. At the beginning of March, when COVID-19 first started to take hold, one of the first big moves was to transition the school experience from in-person to online learning. While allowing kids to continue their education online protected them from the virus, it also deprived them of a valuable resource. Many kids in the Dallas area and beyond rely on their local schools and libraries to access books and other reading materials to expand their educational pursuits. When the schools and libraries shut down many kids were left without the books they need to help learn and engage with new material. 

Bora Laci, an avid member of the nonprofit community, knew she had to do what she could to provide resources to the kids of North Dallas. She reached out to Seth Block and Amit Banerjee, who both took part in the Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy at Communities Foundation of Texas, to see what they could do together. 

Seth Block, Amit Banerjee, and Bora Laci at the June 20th Book Drive in Oak Cliff.

Seth Block, Amit Banerjee, and Bora Laci at the June 20th Book Drive in Oak Cliff.

“Back in April, when COVID-19 first peaked, I decided I wanted to help the children affected,” said Bora. “I am a huge advocate for education and decided to reach out to my friend Amit and see what we could do to help give back. Amit thought it would be a good idea to reach out to Seth, who wanted to do something with Dallas Public Libraries and form a book drive. After some brainstorming, we decided to start the Dallas Book Drive.

Having greater access to books is an essential foundation when it comes to the education of a child. Reading provides a child with critical thinking and creativity skills that will help them tackle new obstacles and obtain a brighter future. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the National Endowment for theArts, kids who read more will play a more positive and active role in their community as they grow older. 


Now that we’re are in the midst of a global pandemic, North Dallas has an opportunity to work together and ensure our children can continue to grow and learn in a safe environment. Stephanie Knight, Dean of SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development, understands the importance a book drive has: “We truly can bolster children during the pandemic by giving books to our literacy nonprofits so they can spark children’s imaginations and create wonderful moments for them. As educators, we want to help create healthy spaces for reading and learning, and the Dallas Book Drive is a catalyst for this goal.”

It did not take long for the Dallas Book Drive to pick up steam across DFW.  “We wanted to start out by helping one non-profit, but after Seth and Amit reached out to some of their contacts, we ended up working with a few non-profits including United to Learn, Reading Partners, Readers 2 Leaders, and Mi Escuelita Preschool,” Bora says.

Carol Goglia, president of United to Learn, is particularly excited to be a part of the Dallas Book Drive. “Until 3rd grade, students are learning to read. Beginning in 4th grade, children are reading to learn. Thankfully, the Dallas Book Drive will help United to Learn get books in the hands of students working to improve their reading skills.”


Seth, Amit, and Bora were also able to partner with some pillars in the Dallas community to help promote and grow the Dallas Book Drive. SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development, Union, Communities Foundation of Texas, the Kleinert Foundation, and others all jumped to help provide books for kids in need.

With all this support behind the Dallas Book Drive, it is no surprise that it quickly exceeded the expectations set by Seth, Amit, and Bora. “When we first started, we decided we were going to aim for 100 books for every nonprofit. As soon as we began to spread the news on social media and other platforms, we started to get an influx of support. We created an Amazon wishlist that immediately exploded with donations. We have already  exceeded the 100 books for each non-profit, just with online donations.”  

Seth was particularly amazed and amused with all the donations coming in through Amazon. “My apartment is quickly becoming overrun with the boxes of books coming in from Amazon I will leave and come back to two or three boxes waiting at my door,” says Seth.

Amit with District 1 Council Member, Chad West.

Amit with District 1 Council Member, Chad West.


While the Dallas Book Drive provides a much-needed service to the kids of Dallas, Seth, and his team hope the book drive’s message runs deeper. “One of the things our team hopes this book drive accomplishes is for other people to feel inspired to do something in their community,” says Seth. “A lot of people might look at what we are doing and say, ‘Wow, that took a lot of work and must have been really complicated.’ The reality is, we just took the first step, and everything snowballed from there. There is probably someone in the community right now who wants to do something about an issue, but does not know how or does not think they have the resources. Hopefully, they look at this book drive and realize it’s simply a matter of figuring out what is the first step to take, and then taking it.”

COVID-19 has made it difficult to focus on community and charity as we are all stuck at home. However, individuals like Seth, Amit, and Bora show us that no matter how difficult a situation we find ourselves in, there is always hope for a better tomorrow. 

If you are interested in participating in the Dallas Book Drive, Ruthie’s will have a book drop-off from June 22 to the 28th at their food truck location in Klyde Warren Park.

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