Cool Kid Mackenzie Krestul helps kids read with new books

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (KABC) -- Our ABC7 Cool Kid is Mackenzie Krestul, a high school senior who founded a nonprofit that brings new books to elementary school children.

The excitement she sees from young readers motivates her at every book fair she holds. The Canyon High School senior founded Code Read, which brings new books to elementary school children who sometimes might not be able to afford them.

"I love reading. I am very, very passionate about it," Krestul said. "Having your own books is so important for literacy, and that's a very big problem right now with kids in low-income communities."

Thanks to donations and the help of her family, the 17-year-old has collected boxes of brand new books in her garage for all reading levels, pre-K through sixth grade.

She then holds book fairs at elementary schools. It's up to the schools and teachers to decide how their students can earn what are called "book bucks" by doing classroom activities. The kids then get to bring their "book bucks" to the fair and use them for two books, a bookmark and a book bag.

"The kids are always so excited and so happy," Krestul said. "They always say wait, we get to keep these? And we tell them, yes! They're yours forever. They earn their books, so they treasure them more than if we just gave them to them."

Now, this honors student - who is also on the swim team and involved in theater - is applying to several top universities including Harvard, Brown, Columbia and NYU, with the intent to double major in computer science and theater.

"Being a published author is one of my biggest goals. It has been since elementary school," Krestul said.

As she collects more donations and volunteers through her website, Krestul's next book fair is at Palm Tree Elementary School in Palmdale on Oct. 26.
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