Janet Roth

Peoria, IL

"By helping children have access to books at home, we hope to strengthen learning and instill a life-long love of reading."

I founded Look. It’s My Book!, a nonprofit in Peoria, Illinois, which gives away six books a year to each child in kindergarten through fourth grade. We currently serve all of the 14 elementary schools in our local district. So far, we have given away over 150,000 books.

It all began when I read an article in Wired magazine about how America was falling behind in education. I was shocked. I thought we were #1 and found out we were 27th among the world’€™s developed countries.

I showed the article to someone I knew who was involved with the schools and he said, “We have a committee for you.”€ The subcommittee that I was asked to chair studied whether Peoria needed a math, science and technology (MST) academy. We did our report and we now have a MST.

Then I read about two gals who gave six books a year to a lower socioeconomic school district that was under-performing on national tests and that it went from below to above the national norm.  I thought we could do that in Peoria.

Research done in 27 countries has shown that books in the home improve reading readiness and ability. I called my subcommittee together and said this is what I would like to do and asked, “€œWill you help me?”€ They said, œ”Yes.” And that’€™s how we got started.

We have made children love reading and given them the tools to do so. By helping children have access to books at home, we hope to strengthen learning and instill a life-long love of reading. Our many “Thank You” notes from the children indicate that it seems to be working!

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