IMAGINE KIDS’ EXCITEMENT AT THE CHANCE TO SPEND $60 TO BUY THEIR VERY OWN BOOKS IN A BOOKSTORE FILLED WITH BOOKS THEY WANT TO CHOOSE AND TO READ!
My Own Book® was established by the Freeman-Harrison Family Foundation in 1999 to inspire a love of reading among disadvantaged children of New York City. Many of these children have never owned a book they could call their own. Most have never entered a bookstore!
My Own Book program provides field trips to bookstores for students in third grade classes in participating New York City public schools. Each child is given a $60 allowance to choose and purchase his or her very own books just for themselves.
The National Institute for Literacy says that third grade is a critical time in a child’s reading life. A student who is a proficient reader by the third grade is four times more likely to graduate from high school, according to a study commissioned by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Our goal at My Own Book is to make sure that students are as solidly prepared for their future learning, for their future work and careers.
My Own Book does not simply give books to kids, we build on kids’ excitement for reading. At My Own Book we:
- Introduce children to the pleasure of browsing through a bookstore
- Inspire kids to select books they are eager to read
- Encourage kids to build their own personal libraries at home
- Give third graders the exhilaration of spending $60 on themselves
My Own Book is made possible by its partnership with the principals and teachers in the participating NYC schools. A cadre of dedicated volunteers are the lifeblood of the program. My Own Book volunteers include retired educators, professionals and others who coordinate with teachers and school administrators to arrange the trip to the bookstore. My Own Book volunteers meet with the children and teachers in advance to build excitement for their field trip. At the store volunteers, parents and teachers assist students as they browse and choose their books. In follow up visits to classrooms, after the children have had a chance to read and share their books with friends and family — volunteers discuss students’ experiences and hear the children describe the books they have read. In the 2021-2022 school year alone, more than 50 volunteers organized buying experiences for over 3,700 students in 40 inner-city schools throughout all five boroughs.
My Own Book is unique among programs that promote child literacy in its emphasis on purchasing choice and ownership. Our mission reflects the premise that when children choose books they really want, they begin to develop a love of reading which nurtures their growth academically and socially.
The evidence and recognition of My Own Book’s success has come from many sources, including teachers, principals, parents, the children themselves, and respected national organizations such as the National Book Foundation Innovations in Reading Prize and the prestigious AARP volunteer award for community service given to Burt Freeman.