• World Half Full

Ten-year-old Texan collects 500,000 books for kids

CULTURE

Ten-year-old Texan Orion Jean is on a mission to spread the gift of reading to hundreds of thousands of children. In May 2021, he set himself the goal of collecting via donations half a million books by the end of August 2021.


“I want to be able to share my love of literacy with as many people as possible,” he explained.


Last year, he won a student kindness contest. “Kindness is a virtue we can all possess, if we are willing to,” he noted at the time, adding, “So why not start today? Because right now, it’s what we need more than ever.” Jean said winning the contest “was really just the catalyst to something so much bigger. It started out as an idea but here we are today, the race to kindness was born.” He used the US$500 contest prize to donate toys to a Dallas children’s hospital, and through food drives and help from a relief organisation, he helped gather 100,000 meals for local families in need during the lockdowns.

The books are already being distributed to children. “It was so great seeing other kids enjoy looking for their new books to take home and love!” Jean says. “You know, it’s my responsibility to be able to see these people who need help and knowing that I have the resources to help them.”


In June, Jean told NBC, “We are the next generation and we have to know how to lead. There are a lot of bad things happening in the world and there are a lot of problems. It’s kind of difficult for me to look around and see all of this stuff happening and not wanting to be able to do something about it.”


Did he make it? Well, yes. And easily, as it turns out!

To get there, he launched the Race to Kindness website, which features a list of events and drop-off locations. He also hosted several book drops and received some big donations in the process. The latest donation — and the largest — came from ThriftBooks, which said in a statement, "ThriftBooks, the world’s largest independent online seller of used books, is proud to contribute over 300,000 books to support Orion Jean’s Race to Kindness Book Drive. Orion’s mission to collect and distribute 500,000 books to inspire kids to become lifelong readers is 100% aligned with the ThriftBooks mission to do the same by getting books into the hands and homes of children everywhere."


The books are being distributed across the United States to students and schools where new books aren’t always easy to come by. “Studies show that kids who have books in their homes do better than kids without books. I know books have changed my life and changed the lives of so many other kids around the world,” he notes.

“I hope the impact I have had is enough to keep people continuing to race to kindness and continuing to join me in this marathon because it’s not a sprint. It’s not a one-time thing, it’s not a three-time thing. It’s something that can hopefully be continued on for years and years to come.”


TOP Orion Jean

BOTTOM A total of 3,233 books were collected on one day in Fort Worth, Texas

PHOTOS Race to Kindness


There are a lot of bad things happening in the world and there are a lot of problems. It’s kind of difficult for me to look around and see all of this stuff happening and not wanting to be able to do something about it.

Orion Jean


| Watch Orion Jean’s Kindness Can Change A Nation speech


Follow Orion Jean on Instagram


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