LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — To Jonathan Beatty, books are the foundation of life.
"Books have allowed me to live a life I never thought was possible," Beatty said.
Growing up in Hazard, Kentucky, he used books to envision the future he wanted for himself.
Beatty said of reading, "Dreaming about living in California, traveling to Europe, going on vacation on an island, these were things I didn't know were possible until I began seeing it in books."
After a career in corporate finance that took him all over the country, he is getting back to basics. Beatty is fighting the battle against illiteracy book by book.
"Illiteracy is the root cause to a lot of our societal woes," Beatty said.
His approach is twofold. First, he is inspiring through music.
"I believe if we want kids to read, we have to inspire them."
He shot a music video at Lexington's William Wells Brown Elementary School. Each child got a free book. An impactful day for both him and the young scholars.
Principal Ebony Hutchinson said, "You would've thought we gave them a million dollars the way they were holding on to the books. They treasured them. A lot of the kids say they read the book every night."
Beatty added, "It was a dream. Literally, a dream come true. I dreamt of that day in my mind and what it would be like."
In April, he launched his social impact brand I Love Books. He sells apparel and merchandise to promote reading. Half of each dollar goes toward putting books in kids' hands. So far, he has given out nearly 1,000 books.
"Coming from corporate I've been trained to solve problems, and you start with acknowledging the problem, and then you build a plan," Beatty said.
Beatty believes tackling illiteracy will help lead to even bigger change, solving issues like crime, poverty, and homelessness. He doesn't plan on slowing down until every child in the country has a library of their own at home.
"Books are a key to freedom and a productive life as a human being. I believe everyone deserves books, and I believe reading is a birthright."
To support Beatty's cause and to learn more, visit www.ilovebooks.org.