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Books for Belize: A New Program Helps Travelers Bring the Gift of Reading

A new organization called Angel Says: Read is working to promote literacy in Belize by collecting books from tourists on vacation and donating them to public libraries.

When author and former Washington Post reporter Jackie Spinner first visited Belize earlier this year, she decided to leave her heavy stack of used books behind at the end of her trip. That simple decision gave Spinner the idea of encouraging other tourists to recycle their holiday reading, and Angel Says: Read was born.

“The libraries in Belize genuinely need books, and this is an easy way for tourists to help promote literacy, an apolitical cause we all can support,” Spinner stated in a press release.

“While books are taken for granted in the US, many visitors don’t realize that they are truly difficult to come by here,” Chris Crowell, owner of the Cotton Tree Lodge in Belize, told TravelMole.

The lack of a language barrier makes it easy for North Americans and other English-speaking travelers to contribute books. Although Kriol and Spanish are also commonly spoken, English is the official language of Belize and is used in educational settings.

According to Spinner, travelers have embraced Angel Says: Read with enthusiasm. “They see a very poor country with a lot of poverty. They want to help, but they don’t know how. I’m not asking for money; I’m asking for books they’ve already read,” she told The Southern Illinoisan.

To donate books, travelers simply leave them in collection boxes at primary tourist destinations such as the Belize airport and cruise ship docks. Although Angel Says: Read officially launched just last month, Spinner has already collected and distributed several hundred books, according to an interview with 7 News Belize. Most donations fall into the categories of current events and classics.

Spinner hopes that the positive reaction to Angel Says: Read will encourage travelers in other countries to donate books, contributing to efforts to increase literacy worldwide.

For more information on Angel Says: Read, visit www.angelsaysread.com

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