Book Mentor Project

Book mentor reading with child.

Illinois Public Media’s book mentor project, now in its ninth year, gets kids excited about reading, and puts books into the hands of families who otherwise might not have access to books at home.

The project recruits and trains volunteers come from local businesses, community service organizations, student associations and parent groups. Book mentor volunteers visit Head Start and early childhood classrooms where they read a book and do a related activity with the children. Volunteers are assigned to a classroom and work in pairs throughout the school year so that the children develop a relationship with their book mentor. 

As the needs of the community have changed, the book mentor project has evolved to meet those needs. In addition to classroom visits, the project now reaches children and families through online games and videos, DVDs, mobile apps, classroom math and science kits and family nights. “ But we still stay true to our goal—each year we distribute more than 5,000 books to local Head Start and early childhood families,” said Molly Delaney, Illinois Public Media educational outreach director. The program serves 42 classrooms and 720 families each year.

Molly said the program aims to increase the number of books in Head Start homes and the number of minutes that parents are reading to their children.

“We’ve heard parents say, ‘My child is coming home and they’re making me read this book!’ That encourages more learning at home,” said Molly.

For more information about Illinois Public Media’s book mentor project, visit the project website.