A novel idea – Reader’s Digest

The Free Books Campaign aims to get as many books as possible by authors of color to people that can’t afford them

The Free Books Campaign was set up in July 2020 by Sofia Akel, a race equity researcher, when she decided to launch a fundraiser to get as many books as possible by authors of color to people that can’t afford them across the UK and Ireland .

So far over 1,700 books have been sent by the Campaign to people who can’t afford them, and it has even caught the attention of the footballer Marcus Rashford who donated 400 copies of his children’s book You Are a Champion.

Some of the beneficiaries of the campaign include children from working class backgrounds who have not been exposed to literature from Black or Brown authors at school or at home. “I’ve had emails from parents who weren’t aware of just how many amazing authors of color there are, and who have said how much their child lit up seeing a book that reflected them,” Sofia says.

Explaining the need for the campaign, Sofia says: “Sadly, reading has become a luxury in today’s world. If you’re working two jobs just to put food on the table, having that time to sit down and read can be difficult. So, there is an element of privilege when it comes to even just finding the time to read. On top of that, the typical adult hardback book might cost you upwards of £15, which could put food on the table for a week if you were counting every penny.”

This is where the campaign hopes to step in. It operates on a trust basis, whereby the campaign doesn’t exist to police people’s financial circumstances. “No one has to prove that they’ve not got moneyeven if some people volunteer personal information, we never ask for it. Everyone deserves to read books that they love,” Sofia adds.

Find out more at Free Books Campaign

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Irene B. Bowles