Books as Bridges

Books as Bridges students from MAN 5 Jombang, East Java, Indonesia (2018)

International Book Project launched the Books as Bridges program in 2007 to meet the growing need for higher reading levels and greater cultural awareness in Kentucky. Since its founding, the program has expanded to engage students in six other states as well. Books as Bridges pairs local classrooms with an overseas partner classroom, providing a unique opportunity for cultural exchange to occur. The students write and send three (or more) letters to each other over the course of the academic year, reaching greater depths as time passes. The increase in detail not only allows for an organic friendship to develop but also strengthens the writing skills of the students. The program goes beyond letter exchanges to amplify learning for students. The Books as Bridges Coordinator creates and delivers a personalized cultural literacy lesson to participating classrooms in the US. These lessons include a presentation on the history of their partner country, as well as information about modern life and culture. Lesson staples include a traditional craft lesson and a sampling of food native to the partner country. For example, middle school students at Edythe J. Hayes, partnered with Ghanaian classrooms, learned to play a simple rhythm on the djembe, and had the opportunity to sample fried plantains.

International partner classrooms receive small shipments of books to help grow their school libraries. Students also exchange a cultural package during the school year, including pictures and small trinkets and toys that represent life in their respective countries. Local students are encouraged to act on their compassion and design a project that they can execute themselves, such as writing persuasive letters on behalf of their pen-pals to local businesses for school supply donations or organizing book drives for International Book Project shipments. These service-learning projects benefit both the international recipient and the local classroom by creating an environment for sharing and learning.

In 2019 International Book Project launched its free kids’ summer program, Globetrotters. Over the course of the week-long program, participants “travel” to five different regions of the world. Regions include, but are not limited to, Southeast Asia, West Africa, Latin America, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Oceania. Each day of the program offers a fact-based presentation about a particular region of the world coupled with immersive cultural lessons that feature food tastings, arts and crafts, dance, music, storytelling, and more! Globetrotters is not only fun, but it also helps students develop geospatial skills, improve reading and writing, and increase their understanding of the diverse world in which they live. Globetrotters is proudly sponsored by the LG&E and KU Energy Foundation and the Junior League of Lexington.


The deadline for applications for 2022-2023 Books as Bridges program has been extended to the end of the day, April 22th, 2022

Please contact our Books as Bridges Coordinator ( with any questions or concerns.