Book Mentor Project: Growing Great Readers and Relationships Together

Adult book mentor reading to a very happy child

Illinois Public Media’s Book Mentor Project is deeply invested in relationships. Since 2004, we have been strengthening relationships between pre-kindergarten children and community volunteers, classroom teachers, parents and local educational institutions. The relationships are fostered through carefully selected books and activities designed to deepen learning in the classroom, at home and in the community.

We recruit and train volunteers from local businesses, community service organizations, student associations and parent groups to become Book Mentors. Mentors adopt a Head Start classroom for an entire school year. In pairs, they read a book to students and assist them in a book-related, hands-on activity to reinforce a math, science or language arts skill. We provide teachers with lesson plans and classroom materials to support their curriculum. Community partners such as the Krannert Art Museum, NCSA, local park districts and more help us reach parents by hosting Book Mentor Family Activity Nights.

"When we have the same Book Mentors each month the teachers and children in the classroom build a relationship with the Mentors. When I talk about readers coming into the classroom, they get really excited. It's also nice talking to parents about the program and to see them get excited when finding out their children will get books that are theirs to keep."                                                                                                                 -- Deb Curtis, teacher at Rantoul Head Start

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. 

For more information about Illinois Public Media’s Book Mentor Project, email Project Director, Kellie Blanden,