CHARLOTTE -- It's called 'Brain Drain' or 'Summer Slide' and it's what happens when kids leave school for the summer, never open a book while on break and lose up to three months of reading gains. 

Kristina Cruise, Executive Director for Promising Pages, says "Right now in CMS we have 60 percent of third graders who cannot read at an average grade level and that is highly correlative to high school dropout rates."

Promising Pages is a non-profit inspiring children in low-income homes to read. The group bases their efforts off of Harvard research showing these underserved children who are engaged in reading four to five books a summer have a much better chance for success. 

"Reading is so important.  It develops the mind, it develops the self-esteem, and every child in this community deserves the opportunity to have access to books," Cruise said.

The initiative is called 'Books on Break' and it is something many people in Charlotte are passionate about, including a group of American Airlines employees who took more than two hours out of their day in the middle of the week to sort through, clean, and process donations.

"Reading to your child is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your children," said Shannon Luce with American Airlines. 

Luce has been with the airline for 28 years, but an advocate for reading her whole life.  So much so that her daughter Katherine followed her mother's footsteps as a flight attendant and volunteered for 'Promising Pages'.  And her other daughter Andrea teaches English in the Peace Corps.  Now Shannon and her girls are just hoping to give back the same opportunity.

The goal is to collect 80,000 books by mid-May to provide free pop-up book fairs at targeted CMS schools where pre-k to third grade students get to choose five books to take home and keep.

However, Cruise says, "We cannot give books that we don't have."

That's where you come in! You can donate books simply by dropping them off at the bin located on Old Pineville Road in South End. For more information on how you can volunteer visit their website here: