Reading for Fun at ‘Harkins House’ Builds Resilience

CONTACT:  Cathy Leiber

Literacy is a Significant Protective Factor for At-Risk Youth
— Reading for Fun at ‘Harkins House’ Builds Resilience —

9 May 2023 — Washington County’s Harkins House and Judith’s Reading Room, a global nonprofit literacy organization, today announced their latest collaboration to enhance Judith’s Reading Room’s library established there in 2012.

Today’s donation of 46 books curated by Harkins House staff is intended to provide books for fun for youth impacted by the Juvenile Justice System residing at ‘Harkins House’ in Hillsboro, Oregon. The donation is part of Judith’s Reading Room’s ongoing efforts to support the education and mental health of young people around the world.

The books cover a wide range of genres, from adventure and mystery to science fiction, and were carefully selected by Harkins House staff affirming that reading for fun can be a powerful tool to help young people navigate difficult times and build resilience.

“Research shows that reading for pleasure can have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing. Our hope is that these books will provide a source of comfort, escape, and inspiration for the youth,” said Cathy Leiber, President, Judith’s Reading Room.

Judith’s Reading Room has donated a total of 581 books worth over $7,000 to Washington County Juvenile Detention Center’s ‘Harkins House,’ an organization that provides a range of services, including counseling, support groups, and mentorship, to help young people overcome challenges such as addiction, trauma, and family issues.

“We are thrilled to receive this generous donation from Judith’s Reading Room,” said Martha Villegas, Juvenile Service Supervisor. “Reading can be a powerful tool for self-reflection and personal growth, and we know that these books will be a valuable addition to our programs,” she added.

Judith’s Reading Room was established in 2010 in the memory of the founders’ first cousin, Judith F. Krug, a librarian and Director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.  Its mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy.  Its signature event, the annual Freedom Through Literacy Award honors teachers, authors, and librarians who have done exemplary work to instill in others a love of reading.   To date, the organization has dedicated 105 libraries in 23 countries, serving tens of thousands of children and adults with more than 132,000 books donated worth more than $1.4 million. To learn more, visit

Thank you so much for stopping by we appreciate your support and taking the time to fly out to meet with staff and youth. Today I came to work and had youths handing me names of books to keep in mind for next time you are out, which say’s a lot about their enthusiasm of reading. These are youth who report never picking up a book to read for fun in their life.

Continue the good work! We look forward to fostering an ongoing partnership with “Judith’s Reading Room”. We have many ideas so we hope to apply for your grant/prize next year to support specific books that we can use in youth programming at Harkins House.

Martha Villegas
Juvenile Service Supervisor 

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