Books for a Better World was founded in 2000 by Kae Robb, a former middle school Spanish teacher from Phoenix, Arizona. With the help of several eager volunteers, Kae began to deliver books to Guatemala…one backpack at a time. She was determined, enthusiastic and extremely optimistic—characteristics that proved her well! Only just a few short years later, the number of schools Books for a Better World served jumped from a handful in Guatemala to nearly 40 in and around Mexico, Central and South America. Now, Books for a Better World delivers over thousands of books to libraries in Panama, Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala!
Even as a very small child, Kae was an avid reader. Although her family did not travel far from their home in Michigan, she explored the world through the magic of books. She navigated the stormy seas, trekked in high mountains, sailed down long, tropical rivers, kayaked through icy waters, and rode bareback across the prairies. She witnessed the exhilaration of scientific discoveries and the pain of social injustice. Kae cheered as her friends in books triumphed over the challenges presented to them and cried when they were mistreated or misunderstood.
With the passing of each year, her sense of community expanded. In junior high school, Kae looked at a map, decided that she would begin her world travels in Latin American and signed up to study Spanish. As a college student she made her first trip outside of the United States to Mexico. Language immersion was Kae’s goal, but in the process she discovered that she was at home and with family wherever she went. As Kae traveled, she always toted with her a collection of books that, once read, she passed on to others.
Kae's interest in literacy in developing countries seemed quite natural. Her goal was to provide opportunities to children without access to books. Through their acquaintance with literature, she helped the children expand their imaginations and experience the sheer joy of discovery and the beauty of language. She hoped to inspire and empower children to develop to the highest level to which they are capable.
When Kae read to children who had never been read to before, she knew she was changing the world. When she shared with them her passion for books and talked with them about how it opened the doors to new and exciting places and people, Kae knew she was giving them something magical. When a child finished a book and enthusiastically retold the story to another, she knew that she had found her calling.
Sadly, in the summer of 2004, Kae lost her long fight against breast cancer, but her legacy lives on through Books for a Better World.
It was Kae’s tireless spirit, endless optimism and amazing vision that has brought Books for a Better World to the place it stands today, a place where thousands of children in Central and South America are experiencing the joys of reading. It is with great sadness that Books for a Better World and the community at large has lost such an amazing woman. As Books for a Better World continues in her absence, we are determined to uphold the organization at a level that is worthy of such a remarkable woman.
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