“Take a Book, Leave a Book”: Ananya Suresh’s Girl Scout Journey


This is a picture of, creator, Ananya Suresh standing next to the “Take a Book, Leave a Book,” bookshelf. The bookshelf was established this school year and is located upstairs near the gym. Taken by Juhi Bhatia on September 8, 2022.

The “Take a Book, Leave a Book”  bookcase, a recent addition to Lambert High School, is located upstairs next to the gym doors and serves as an oasis for students to unwind during lunch. Many do not realize that this popular spot started with junior Ananya Suresh’s Girl Scout Gold project.

Suresh started her seven-year Girl Scout journey in fourth grade.

Girl Scouts is an organization that encourages young girls to learn various life skills like entrepreneurship and innovation and rewards them with badges for their uniforms. 

Ananya’s passion for community service inspired her to join Girl Scouts. When she was little, she admired the girls her age who would go door-to-door selling cookies. It was this admiration that became the push that led her to finally join the organization. 

Throughout her journey, Suresh has participated in various volunteering opportunities to earn badges that have positively influenced her. 

“Girl Scouts has helped me to be a better person, and it’s taught me to just be grateful for what we have and the amount of community service we’ve done,” Suresh said. “We’ve seen people who are less fortunate, so now wasting things and being unkind is something I try to avoid.” 

Last year, Suresh had the opportunity to complete her Silver Project, an initiative where she was able to plan a community service project revolving around a topic she was passionate about. 

“My silver award was sending books to Sierra Leone, Africa, so I raised money and about a thousand books, sent that to Africa, and they built a tiny library,” Ananya said proudly. 

She explained that, after completing her Silver Project, the next step was to work on her Gold Project. 

“The gold project is basically when everyone gets to choose to work on a thing that they are passionate about,” Ananya described. “They create a project that has multiple people involved and it should be impactful and sustainable.” 

Ananya discussed her experience with AP Biology and the difficulty of finding an affordable textbook that she could annotate. She figured that others might also have this problem in Lambert, so she chose to name the shelf, “Take a Book, Leave a Book,” where students can drop off textbooks for other students to borrow and use. 

“This project is sustainable, so this shelf will stay up for as long as someone tears it down,” Suresh mentioned. “Even after I’m gone, people will still be leaving textbooks”

She hopes that the “Take a Book, Leave a Book” project will allow Lambert students access to expensive textbooks and the resources they need to excel.

When asked about how she believes the shelf is currently doing, she showed a sense of disappointment.  

“As of right now, I feel like it’s just another sitting area and people don’t really know what the shelf is all about,” Suresh said. “I’m trying to put my message out there to show people that this is not only a study area and that they can take the textbooks.” 

Outside of Scouts, Suresh is an active member of HOSA and manages the Girl’s Junior Varsity Volleyball team. She believes that her scouts’ journey has given her the skill sets necessary to manage her rigorous classes and many extracurriculars. 

Currently, Suresh is working on fully establishing her bookshelf, but in the future, she hopes to be a camp counselor within Girl Scouts and mentor girls in a similar manner to how she was led as a young girl scout.

If you have any old textbooks to donate or are in the market for one for a current class, be sure to visit Ananya’s “Take a Book, Leave a Book” shelf during Lunch & Learn!