“Reading can take you anywhere.”

By Meghan Overdeep
March 10, 2021
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Former teacher Jennifer Williams is on a mission to provide one million books to young readers in and around the small town of Danville, Virginia.

Since 2017, Williams has given away more than 63,000 books in her community, earning herself the nickname "book lady."

Williams told CNN that her mission began when she was working as a tutor, and she had to tell students "no" when they asked if they could take the schoolbooks books home.

"Books are important to me. My mother was a librarian, and she would read to us until we went off to college—not just off to kindergarten—but to college," she told CNN.

"(Reading) can take you anywhere. You can travel in time and space," Williams added. "If you can read, you can learn almost anything."

It's something she wants as many people as possible to experience.

One summer, Williams started collecting donations and buying books with her own money. In no time, she met her initial goal of giving away 300 books. So, she thought, why not aim for one million?

In addition to gifting books to every student at her local elementary school, Williams also keeps Danville's 16 Little Free Libraries stocked. Sometimes, CNN reports, she even leaves books on picnic tables and in laundromats.

You can follow Williams' progress via her Facebook group, Joy of Reading.

"My goal is to keep doing what I do," she told CNN. "The world is full of people who are just complaining. I'm just going to roll up my sleeves and try to do something to help."