If Sonal Kapoor’s life were a novel, she’d only be a few chapters into her story. Just 16, the bright student at Flintridge Prep near Pasadena has a whole world of possibilities ahead of her. Yet while her personal narrative is still unfolding, Kapoor has made it her mission to promote literacy and reading through her grassroots start-up Rescue A Book, which she founded in 2013.
Always encouraged both by her parents and her school to be community service minded, Kapoor had an ‘aha’ moment at the tender age of 13. “I love to read, and it occurred to me that while there are places to donate clothes and food and furniture, there’s no real place to donate books,” she explains. “People always want to get rid of books and they don’t really know where to put them.”
With the help of her mom Kalpna, Kapoor started putting feelers out with friends and neighbors. As books started pouring in, Kapoor got busy cold calling non-profits, hospitals, daycare centers, homeless shelters and hospice agencies. “I’d ask what kinds of books they needed and how many they could use,” she recalls.
Before she was able to drive, Kapoor’s mother was her chauffeur, making it possible for her to pick up and deliver books. Kapoor devotes much of her summer break to Rescue A Book and works on her non-profit as she can during the busy school year. Her commitment speaks volumes, with more than 5,000 books recycled and donated to date.
“It’s really cool to see books with little notes in them, a book is such a personal thing to share,” says Kapoor, now in her junior year. Her books make a difference to people of all ages who might not have access to a library, spend countless hours at dialysis or in chemotherapy or have English language books at home.
“Honestly I don’t know where Rescue A Book will go next, it’s already so much bigger than I ever expected thanks to the incredible community support I’ve gotten,” she says. “I’m going to keep at it through high school and see where that takes me.” A happy ending to this tale of stories shared and donated seems assured.