SAN YSIDRO, Calif. (KGTV) — Nora Vargas is a San Diego County Board Supervisor, but she’s also a South Bay native and former board member for seven years at Southwestern Community College, so she knows a thing or two about students in low-income areas and communities of color.
"I've seen first-hand because of reading and writing, it takes our kids almost 4 or 5 years to transfer to a university, so reading and writing is at the core for our kids," said Vargas, who represents District 1.
This past spring, she helped bring Free Little Libraries to underserved areas, so no child is left behind when it comes to the power of reading.
The idea sparked after a conversation she had with a young San Ysidro student.
"She said for fun, she and her mom would take go to La Jolla and other North County places where little libraries were everywhere. The fact she's able to have it here demonstrates why it's such a great opportunity for our kids,” Vargas said.
A 2020 study by San Diego Council on Literacy found 60% of low-income students don't have a single book at home, proving the disparity in disadvantaged neighborhoods. The first mailbox-like libraries will be up near the Tijuana River Valley and San Ysidro by September.
"It's this whole concept of 'take a book share a book.' This whole building of a community," Vargas added.
Jean Seager, of Coronado, was eager to get involved after learning about the program at a city meeting.
"Just kind of a light bulb went off in my head, and I thought, 'Well, maybe we could help out with that because I thought it was such a good project,'" Seager said.
So far, Seager has collected about 50 books to help fill up the South Bay's future little libraries.
"We are most interested in books in Spanish for kids and dual language books for adults,” said Seager.
"We know every time a child has access to reading materials and books at home, and they're going to have better opportunities for long-term learning and success," Vargas said.
To donate books for the Free Little Libraries, click here.