When Trion Brown’s daughter, Z’mia, came bounding home with a tote bag full of books one day after school last spring, she was excited for her daughter, a kindergartener. But, she was also a little apprehensive.

“When I started seeing the princess books, I thought, ‘Oh, Lord, how am I going to afford all of these books?” Trion recalls. “We’re going to have to return these books and it’s going to break her heart.”

Then, Trion read the letter from tucked in with the books. It explained that the books were Z’mia’s to keep – from Books for Keeps. That they would help Z’mia’s brain expand and grow stronger during the summer. And, that every child in Z’mia’s school – all 400 students at Dunbar Elementary in Atlanta – got to pick out 12 books each and take them home, just like Z’mia, thanks to the efforts of Books for Keeps.

“She told me that she had picked them out herself,” Trion says. “She read the titles out to me. I knew that she could read, but I was amazed at how well she could read.”

That night, Trion and Z’mia read together all evening. They read until it was almost time to get up again, Trion jokes.

And then summer came, and Z’mia kept reading.

“This summer, she picked up books more than anything – more than a toy,” she says. “I don’t think her involvement in books would be as much if it weren’t for the books she got in the spring.”

And then fall came. When Z’mia entered the first grade, she received a reading assessment. Z’mia’s teacher was starting the process of putting students into groups according to their reading levels.

“Z’mia blew out all of the reading [...]