As Alaska's only family travel journalist, I see the most rural and urban stretches of our state. Alaska's literacy falls in the bottom third of the nation, with many children unequipped for school due to a lack of reading materials in the home, and little access to preschool programs. Reading is an activity overshadowed during travel by electronic devices, so in an effort to increase access to books, and inspire traveling children to open their minds to other people, places, and ideas, I started Read On the Fly in June 2016 at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Kids can take a free book with no obligation to return it, in the hopes they will read, read, and read some more during their air travel. My team of all-volunteer helpers has stocked our four shelves with 2,000 books since June, spending a few hours each week at the airport, meeting kids, parents, and airport/airline staff, all of whom react with a "WHAT A GREAT IDEA!' sort or response. I have a fiscal sponsor - but we just launched this effort, and I am a lowly freelance writer trying to good where I am. I love books. I love kids. And I am passionate about the idea that books and travel are similar: both can open kids eyes to the world around them. I don't often get big ideas like this - but clearly - this one stuck.
Funded by Alaska (February 2017)