Every year, Illinois Public Media trains more than100 volunteer readers who go into Head Start and early childhood classrooms to read a book and do a related activity with the children. Some volunteers, like Shony Coleman, are parents.
Others are university students or members of community service organizations. But no matter who the volunteers are or where they come from, the kids are always excited to see them. Every time the book mentors come to read, it means the children in that classroom get to take home another book. Each year, the Book Mentor Project distributes more than 5,000 books to more than 720 families in Champaign County. And mentors like Coleman know the visits and the books make a lasting impression. He thinks the project is having a huge impact on kids’ lives, and a big impact on him. “The reason I’m doing this is because I want (my son) to do the same thing when he grows up and has his own kids. I want him reading, too, to his kid’s class. And he’s gonna do it, because I did it.”