Books for a Better World was founded in 2000 by Kae Robb, a former middle school Spanish teacher from Phoenix, Arizona. It was after visiting her daughter who was serving in the Peace Corps in Guatemala that the idea behind the organization was born. While visiting schools and talking with many teachers there, it became very clear to her what she needed to do. Shortly after her trip to Guatemala, she quit her job and began a new and exciting chapter of her life–Books for a Better World!
Even as a very small child, she was an avid reader. Although her family did not travel far from their home in Michigan, she did 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.
Her interest in literacy in developing countries seemed quite natural. Kae’s goal was to provide opportunities to children without access to books. Through their acquaintance with literature, she helped them 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 changing the world. When a child finished a book and enthusiastically retold the story to another, she knew that she was changing the world.
Sadly, in the summer of 2004, Kae’s lost her long fight against breast cancer. 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.