About Us

“Reading can take you places that you could never imagine.” – Mary Frances Early


ooks for Keeps was established with a core belief in mind: by creating open, equal access to books, we allow children the opportunity to connect the joy of reading with the thrill of discovery by coauthoring positive experiences they can forever associate with learning.

Since starting as a volunteer-led, grassroots program in 2009, Books for Keeps has distributed more than 1,000,000 books to children, teachers, fellow peer agencies, and other individuals in Georgia through book grants, community-based events, the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Clarke County, and its flagship program Stop Summer Slide.

Further, the organization seeks to demonstrate the inherent value of reading and therefore learning by leveraging the provided book access through community engagement activities and in-school programming such as our new Literacy Mentors Program.

Our mission

To connect the joy of reading with the thrill of discovery through co-authored experiences that children can forever associate with learning.

the vision

A world where it is understood that books can be used as a bridge or gateway to understanding the universe and the boundless possibilities contained within it for every person, regardless of their life circumstances.

Our core values


Because it's the right thing to do


We seek to remain authentic and accountable to those that believe in our mission, no matter where we find ourselves in the community.


There's always space at our table


Everyone should be able to see themselves in the work we do and the resources we seek to provide. Providing representation at all levels is crucial to the work we do.


Vulnerability builds community


We’re committed to taking the time to meet people where they are at, remain open-handed, and flexible.


Be lifelong learners of what brings us joy


We work to express ourselves, and the things we enjoy, respectfully, intentionally, and often.

Meet Our Team

Meet Our Board

Our Founder

Melaney Smith

In 2009, Melaney Smith heard about a little girl who was not looking forward to summer. The reason? This second-grader loved to read, but had no books at home. Melaney asked around and learned that there were many children in the same situation. In asking the question, “Why doesn’t somebody do something about this?” she realized, “I am somebody. I can do something.”

Books for Keeps was launched from that point as a grassroots effort, and has since morphed into a research-based nonprofit dedicated to ending summer slide. It was all built around Melaney’s realization that she not only had the power to get books into children’s hands, but also to recruit the best people to help her do it.

Our donors & Sponsors