Madison Reading Project celebrates donating 300,000 books

The Madison Reading Project gave away its 300,000th book and celebrated with a community reading with authors.
kids holding a book by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo and Pat Zietlow Miller with one of the authors on a screen and the author there in person
Courtesy of Madison Reading Project

After nearly a decade of giving away books and teaching children to love reading, the Madison Reading Project gave away its 300,000th book to young readers.

Rowan Childs, the executive director, founded the Madison Reading Project in 2013 to promote literacy in Dane County. Childs began the nonprofit with $1,000 and 30 children in an afterschool program.

Over time, the nonprofit’s efforts have only grown and has already given an additional 3,000 books since reaching the 300,000 milestone at the end of June.

“The start of our organization was in part to help address the disparity in literacy levels of children in Madison and Dane county,” Childs says. “There are still large discrepancies yet today, and we continue to strive to work with many community partners, schools, teachers and families, towards making a difference and helping instill a love of reading.”

In January, the organization also partnered with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a program that sends children one book a month from birth to 5 years old.

To celebrate the milestone, authors e.E. Charlton-Trujillo and Pat Zietlow Miller read their new book “Lupe Lopez: Rockstar Rules” at Theresa Terrace Neighborhood Center June 29. Each child and educator at the center received a copy of the book.


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Zietlow Miller, a local children’s book and New York Times Best Selling author, has previously published works such as “See You Someday Soon” and “Be Strong.” During the event, Zietlow Miller had the children list reasons why they were rockstars.

“I think good picture book writers really remember what it was like to be a kid,” Zietlow Miller told Madison Magazine in a Q&A in March. “The depth of the feeling you had.”

Charlton-Trujillo, a Mexican American filmmaker and author of multiple books including “Fat Angie” and “Feels Like Home,” attended the event virtually. The Lupe Lopez book is loosely based on Charlton-Trujillo since they were convinced in Kindergarten they were going to be the drummer for the band KISS and wore sunglasses to school they refused to take off.

“[The Reading Project does] such a great job of getting books into the hands of kids who need them,” Zietlow says.

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