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GUSTINE - Zachery Ramos, President/Founder of the Gustine Traveling Library, is one of 30 literacy leaders named to the International Literacy Association’s (ILA) 2021 30 Under 30 list. The global list celebrates rising innovators, disruptors and visionaries in the literacy field.

The 21-year-old of Gustine, California, was recognized for his hard work and dedication to the youth of California. Ramos’s work in supporting youth literacy and education in his state has been recognized by local leaders and residents alike. He has to date given out over 20,000 free books and raised over $20,000 for numerous literacy causes.

Ramos said he started the traveling library while a senior at Gustine High in 2017.

His passion for promoting literacy, Ramos said, stems from his childhood.

Ramos said his father came to the United States from Portugal and left high school to work on a farm. His experience instilled in Ramos an appreciation and awareness of the critical importance of literacy, he explained, and inspired him to embark on his journey.

Ramos, who was recently elected to the Gustine Unified School District Board of Trustees and serves on the Merced County Library Advisory Board, said he has advocated for funding for schools and libraries.

“I have also helped promote the idea of every child getting a book starting from the day they are born through fifth grade,” he commented, adding that the importance of reading to children cannot be overstated.

Representing 12 countries, this year’s list of ILA honorees includes educators, nonprofit leaders, authors, volunteers, researchers and social entrepreneurs.

“The start of 2021 is filled with much promise thanks to the work of this year’s class of honorees,” said ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “Their work - whether it’s research on multicultural literacy, helping young students find the power of their voice or dismantling systems of oppression in education - is impacting the lives of countless individuals and communities. Not only do these emerging leaders share in our mission of literacy for all, but also they are helping to ensure that the post-COVID era, when we get there, will be grounded in equity for all.”

Ramos said he is deeply honored by the recognition.

“I am appreciative to ILA to be part of this group of young people who are doing things to help promote literacy. I think it is a great honor. I did not think the traveling library would ever be recognized in that way,” he reflected. “Hopefully this inspires other young people to be involved.”

ILA’s 30 Under 30 honorees are featured in the January/February 2021 issue of Literacy Today, ILA’s bimonthly magazine. To view the Literacy Today feature and read more about the honorees’ accomplishments, visit