10 Good Questions with Books With No Bounds [Q&A]

Meet Emma Mogus, superstar co-founder of Books With No Bounds.

May 18, 2015
Emma Mogus

Emma Mogus wants all children to know they are loved, and they matter

Emma Mogus might just be the most inspiring teenagers you’ve ever met. Along with her sister Julia, Mogus founded Books With No Bounds to provide thousands of new books to First Nation aboriginal communities in Canada - and beyond. A dedicated child advocate for literacy, grassroots activist, environmentalist, local volunteer, and philanthropist, Mogus cares deeply for every child her organizations helps. In this 10 Good Questions interview, the 16-year-old tells Goodnet about her travels to remote communities in northern Ontario, working on the nonprofit from her parent’s basement and getting letters from all over the world.

1. What is your organization’s mission?

The mission of Books With No Bounds is to provide children and teens living in remote communities with books donated by publishers, authors, schools, individuals and organizations. Books With No Bounds organizes, catalogues, packs, and sends appropriate books, computer learning devices and other learning resources to native reserves across Canada and to impoverished communities around the world, so that children and teens are given critical building blocks for literacy and education success.

2. What makes you guys different from the rest?

Our work is driven by a belief that fostering new friendships and making new connections with the children we service is just as important as the books and supplies we send. Children facing struggles most of us could never imagine, need to know they are loved and they matter - regardless of where they live or who they are. Writing letters to the children and building new friendships and experiences is what makes us so different from others. We’re teens, we’re kids and we really truly care because each box we ship is made from 100% love.

Children and staff from a school in Aroland, Canada‬ with their Books With No Bounds shipment

Children and staff from a school in Aroland, Canada‬ with their Books With No Bounds shipment

3. Offices or open work space?

Definitely open work spaces.
Over the years we have found that working in our parent’s basement and in large open community rooms allowed for greater youth participation that fostered a warm sense of unity. Our ideology was always to help inspire others to know ‘there are no bounds to what you can do and who you can be’; working in open work spaces helped us to strengthen our bonds with others, without the stigma of a hierarchy system. There’s is nothing like sorting and boxing books, laughing and sharing special moments with a group of people who share a vision of helping to give the gift of reading to others.  

4. What three words describe your organization?

Boundless, Perseverance, Compassion


5. What inspires you?

In 2012 when we received our first letters from a group of students living in a remote fly-in only reserve in northern Ontario, known as Fort Severn, our inspiration has been and continues to be the children we service. Over the years, my sister and I have built some incredible friendships with children and teens living in remote communities throughout Canada and around the world. The letters and photos we receive are heartwarming and at times heartbreaking. Our inspiration comes from knowing they are our brothers and sisters, and as our global family we must continue to do everything in our power to provide the tools needed to succeed in school - and to let our friends know that they are loved and they matter.  

Emma's brother Jack delivers boxes of new tablets, skates and hockey equipment to an aboriginal reserve at Cat Lake

Emma's brother Jack delivers new tablets, skates and hockey equipment to an aboriginal reserve at Cat Lake

6. What is the best part about your job?

Being able to travel to some of the most remote and isolated reserves in northern Ontario has been a phenomenal highlight to our work. Before we started our organization, I never imagined that in our own province there would be communities without clean drinking water, children being raised with no real schools or libraries and families struggling to pay for food that costs three to four times the cost of what our parents pay.
Spending time on the reserves has made me a better person and more aware of ability to create change. I have learned to give back to others in my own community, through food drives to our local food bank and cooking hot meals at Kerr Street Ministries over the years.  
The best part of my job isn’t that it’s really a job, but a way of how I want to live my life.

7. Does your team eat lunch together?

At Books With No Bounds we tend to be very frugal on how we spend our limited donations.  We don’t have an expense account so when volunteers help us out, we tend to provide economical snacks instead of meals. It’s never hard to please a kid or teen helping out - we love all kinds of treats and healthy snacks that are affordable (especially when we sometimes raid our own pantry!)

8. Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook allows us to share our mission and the impact it has had in the communities we service. Our Facebook page has a feel of a personal journal we can update from anywhere around the world.  

Emma and Julia send a shipment of books to Pakistan for children in the city of Punjab.

Emma and Julia send a shipment of books to Pakistan for children in the city of Punjab. 

9. What do you want Goodnet users to know about your organization?

Nelson Mandela once said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ At Books With No Bounds we believe that books can not only change the lives of children, it can propel a child to go further and to reach for the stars.

10. How can people get involved?

Support us on social media! Our Facebook journal - adorned with beautiful letters from the children who receive our books and incredible photos sharing our experiences - helps show the important value in our work. Our YouTube and Vimeo channels share footage of our travels and serve as a timeline to our mission. And our website connects others on ways to help and details the impact we have had on communities in Canada and around the world.

As well as managing Goodnet.org, Elana writes happy headlines with a particular focus on yoga, meditation and family matters. She has a background in online journalism and web content.