African Library Project

Sarah's African Library Project

07/13/2019 to 09/15/2019
Bellevue WA

We are working with the African Library Project to provide books to eager readers in Africa who have very few books. Please help us by collecting and delivering gently used books or by raising money to help pay for shipping to Africa. It takes only 1000 books and $500 (plus a little elbow grease!) to start a single library and make a huge difference in children’s lives.

This book drive is organized by ...

Hi! My name is Sarah Xu, and I am a current rising senior (12th grader) at the Lakeside School in Seattle. I've always been super passionate about reading and learning, especially when I was younger. One of my favorite activities (yes, I'm a bit of a nerd) was and is still going to a local library or bookstore and just spending hours perusing books and absorbing whatever new knowledge I could. I also think that books have the power to bring people together. As a volunteer and sibling, I love reading with kids and seeing them gradually immerse themselves in the stories they read. Thus, I've always wanted to start a project much larger than myself and I think working to help build a library in Africa and spreading the benefits of reading is a perfect way to do just that.

We want to start a library in Africa because...

There's nothing more satisfying than flipping the front cover of a new book. And yes, I'm a firm believer in the irreplaceable value of tangible paper books. While at times it can seem like a daunting and tedious task to read through all the pages, when you begin delving into the stories, you are taken along a journey with a character or an author. Though many fictional novels may seem far removed from reality, following the experiences of the characters embedded within the pages allows you to develop a profound sentiment of empathy between yourself and the character, no matter how different they may be from you. Reading is more than academic requirements and your parents forcing you to pursue a more scholarly pastime; it is about curiosity, understanding, critical thinking, inspiration, and importantly, revolution. Despite all the wondrous benefits of reading, I find that myself and my peers often forget to realize how readily available and accessible books are in our community. I can obtain almost any book I could ever dream up of in local libraries, at my school, and in bookstores. However, for many youth around the world, these benefits of reading cannot be realized due to structural conditions that hinder accessibility. While the creative and inspirational aspects of books are significant, the practical element of literacy that inevitably comes with access to literature cannot be understated. In order for people to obtain employment, literacy is often a primary requirement, whether that be for applications, contracts, or skills needed for the job. When people are not able to find jobs and earn incomes due to the barrier of illiteracy, that perpetuates cycles of poverty which affects future generation. In addition , literacy is directed linked to lower infant mortality, combats diseases, and improves maternal health. One other issue I am particularly fervent about is the stark gap between women and men in their literacy rates across the world. Nearly two-thirds of the illiterate adult population are women, showcasing how a lack of literacy contributes to the maintenance of systems of gender inequality. When girls are able to access books and begin becoming literate, they can help break through cycles of poverty and inequality and become empowered to create their futures. That is a cause and purpose that I will always stand by because I believe educational rights are borderless, which is why I am dedicated to helping start a library in Africa. This dimension of empowerment is one that strikes a particular chord with me. I have read many books in my lifetime that have focused on characters with specific backgrounds, appearances, and life experiences. However, some of my favorite books are those involving characters that I can relate to, particularly on the level of racial and gender identity. Though these characters are often fictional, to see this representation in the texts I read is inextricably meaningful and empowering. I hope that when youth in Africa gain wider access to books, that they can find ones that stick with them for a lifetime, ones that they can personally relate to and learn from. I believe that change comes through small, incremental steps. Building a library and allowing for greater literacy and learning in youth is a bottom-up approach to breaking through poverty that I stand behind and am so grateful to be able to participate in.

About our African Partners...

For this book drive, I am helping start a secondary community library in Lesotho, a landlocked country surrounded by South Africa. While the books will be ranging from preschool to 8th grade level, the majority of them will be concentrated in the 4th to 8th grade level.

Please contribute these kinds of books...

The books we are asking for in this drive are books ranging from a preschool to 8th grade reading level. Since it is a secondary community library, more books will be in the 4th to 8th grade range, but all books are appreciated!

We need to raise funds for shipping the books...

In terms of fundraising, we need to raise a total of $500 to cover the costs of shipping. Checks can be mailed to 5408 142nd Ave SE, Bellevue WA, 98006. You can also make online donations through paypal which you can send to We will be having interactive fundraisers as well, such as through concerts, food sales, etc. More details will be up on our Facebook page and website!

Here are some ways that you can help...

All help is greatly appreciated in this project! You can donate books to local collection centers, which will be stationed in community centers, schools, businesses, and other venues, donate money to help cover the mandatory shipping costs, letting others know about this project, helping post flyers to spread the word, and helping to organize fundraising events. If you are a high school students, for any time that you dedicate to the cause, I will give you community service hours for your contributions! Please email me at for more specifics on how you can help.

Contact us to find out more

Name: Sarah Xu
Phone: 4255986367

Progress Report

Our Goal 100 books $100 fundraising
Results so far
(updated: 8/27/19)
500 books $ fundraising

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