Chloe Sachs: Tower Hill eighth-grader spreads the joy of reading
For 2019, Chloe Sachs, 14, wants to get as many kids reading as she possibly can.
“I’m lucky I can buy a book or go to the library,” says the Tower Hill School eighth-grader. “There are kids who can’t do that.”
For her bat mitzvah last September, the Wilmington resident asked guests to bring new or gently used books for students in grades 1-12.
This past winter, she launched Books for the Better (BFTB), a project aimed at making books accessible to students who come from low-income families and attend under-resourced schools in Delaware. BFTB allows teachers to get free books so they can add to or start a class library. They can then offer students reading time in class or the opportunity to take books home.
“A lot of these students and their families do not have the means to buy books, and so it ends up being the teacher’s job to provide books for their students,” says Sachs, who hopes that in 2019 BFTB will reach under-resourced schools across the country. Currently, she is using money she got for her birthday to pay the cost of shipping books to teachers.
Tameka Wingo, a fifth-grade teacher at a charter school in Wilmington, says some of her students have moved on to higher reading levels since BFTB supplied her with a box of 25 books four months ago. “I have them read for 30 minutes every night,” says Wingo.
So far, teachers at Great Oaks Charter School in Wilmington and St. Georges Technical High School in Middletown have received books. Since BFTB’s inception, more than 100 books have been donated and 200 more are in stock.
Sachs says more students in need would discover the joy and growth that come from reading if they had easier access to books. According to 2017-18 data from the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, a non-profit dedicated to improving education in the state, 37 percent of the 137,000 students enrolled in Delaware public schools are from low-income families.
Sachs loves reading (favorite authors include Nicola Yoon and Rainbow Rowell, but her favorite books are the Harry Potter series), and she was struck by the number of books she saw in trash bins or lying around collecting dust, so she came up with the idea to donate unwanted books. When her cousin, Sam Brotman, who was part of the Teach for America program, told her about under-resourced schools, Sachs immediately knew where she wanted the books to go. Teach for America is a nationwide non-profit that provides teachers for inner cities and rural areas.
Teach for America helps Sachs find instructors in need, and Sachs’ sister, Maddie, 17, helps collect the books and ship them out.
Alonna Berry, manager of teacher leadership development for Teach for America Delaware, says the Wilmington office notifies teachers about BFTB through email or social media. The teachers then email Sachs directly.
Berry says she was excited when Sachs reached out. “A student like Chloe who has the means and resources is an example of giving back to the community through the work she does,” she says.
Sachs is working on organizing book drives at Tower Hill School, Congregation Beth Emeth and at the Brandywine Volleyball Club in Wilmington.
To donate, drop off books at the Siegel JCC in Wilmington. For more information and to donate, email Sachs at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Instagram at books_for_better.