Bi-Coastal Literacy Project

Judith’s Reading Room has supported two institutions for at-risk youth: Harkins House in Hillsboro, Oregon, and Children’s Home of Easton in Easton, Pennsylvania. Each institution received a custom library and implemented monthly Book Clubs. With the help of our partner organizations and Dr. Christian Tatu, professor at Lafayette College, we conducted impact assessment research to understand the impact of a book club on teens who have not succeeded in school.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 85% of juvenile offenders have reading problems. Compounded by violent learned behavior, these youth are disempowered through a vicious cycle of poverty, crime, and violence. The Book Club effort fights to change the perspective of at-risk youth, who feel as though they cannot turn their lives around because of the previous choices they’ve made.

Example Book Club Reading List

  • HOOT
  • The Hunger Games
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  • The Maze Runner
  • The Giver
  • The Outsiders
  • Stargirl
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  • Witch and Wizard
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Hobbit
  • True Legend
  • Lord of the Flies
  • Eragon
  • Scorch Trials
  • Help Yourself

Through the positive interactions at the Book Clubs, Judith’s Reading Room research
found that:

  • Reading gives Book Club participants a sense of pride and accomplishment
  • Participants believe they gain valuable confidence in speaking in groups
  • Book Club offers leadership opportunities for members
  • Book Club exposes students to ideas that differ from their experiences
  • Book Club also showed that participants’ experiences are not unique and that others have experienced similar struggles

Jerry Spinelli speaks to Children's Home of Easton Book Club members, part of a literacy program for at-risk youth.

Newberry Award-winning author Jerry Spinelli spoke to Children’s Home of Easton Book Club members and Judith’s Reading Room Board of Directors before a performance of his book Stargirl.


Award-winning author Jerry Spinelli met with Children’s Home of Easton Book Club members.

He told the young men how all four of his first novels were rejected. But he persevered, and stressed the importance of dealing with failure. His overarching message:

“Never give up.”

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