J3’s Books Open Hearts: The Power of Representation

By Giving List Staff   |   August 11, 2023

The first time Jolonne heard “I Am Every Good Thing” by Derrick Barnes in J3’s Cozy Reading Club, he was overflowing with energy, curiosity, and hope – just like the main character, a black boy like himself. Page after page, Jolonne soaked in the words and positive affirmations celebrating the infinite potential of black boys that all children should see reflected in themselves. “I am brave. I am hope. I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams. I am worthy of success, of respect, of safety, of kindness, of happiness.” 

When children see themselves in books, they see themselves reflected back as part of the larger human experience. They get a sense of who they are and everything they can be. They know that they matter. 

Each book opened by a student in J3’s Cozy Reading Club was chosen by the staff with incredible intention. The stories shared not only keep the attention of their struggling readers, but connect kids to their inner selves and others around them. These books, J3 hopes, will help their students grow up to be kind, confident, and empowered. 

The road ahead is tougher for most students in J3’s Cozy Reading Club. 90% of kids enrolled in their free after school literacy program live in low-income households. 90% of their kids also are students of color whose own stories are often overlooked. 

But with J3’s Lending Library, all of their students can borrow from a rich collection of more than 5,000 books where they’ll find stories that feel like their own. The books should, according to J3’s Book Collection Criteria, “provide a mirror… for students to see themselves” and “a window…for students to see other experiences different from them.” 

Students at Tibby Elementary during Cozy Reading Time where the students choose a book that most captivates them and get to practice silent, sustained reading. (Tibby 2092)

J3 knows the power a book holds and the influence reading has on a child’s future. “Three out of four students who aren’t reading proficiently by the fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare” is one of many alarming illiteracy statistics that keeps them going. 

The organization has made it their mission to change this trajectory for as many kids as they can, starting with fourth graders in their Los Angeles neighborhood.

“Parents call us and sometimes they’re emotional. They tell us that they see their child reading, that they’ve never seen it before,” says Valerie Jauregui, J3’s Program Director and Lead Book Curator. She is also an author, librarian, and member of the American Library Association. From leveraging resources like We Need Diverse Books to attending webinars and reaching out to independent bookstores, Valerie is devoted to researching the most impactful books to add to their collection.   

These books are award-winning, inclusive, engaging, and strategically chosen to help create a lifelong habit of reading in their students. 

Kids can borrow two books each week during their time at Cozy Reading Club. From fiction, non-fiction, picture books, early chapter books, to graphic novels that span a variety of interests – there’s something for everyone.

At the end of the program, every child receives six books to start their very own library at home. Three of these books are at their grade-level. The other three are picture books to read to younger siblings or neighbors to spread the change that books can bring. 

To J3, these books are powerful tools as well as gifts that keep on giving. 

Every student receives the session’s six books in their gift bag to continue their reading journey, but Valerie makes an exception. She quietly swaps one of Jolonne’s books with a copy of “I Am Every Good Thing” that she went out and bought herself. As Jolonne pulls the book out of his bag, he beams with joy when he realizes it’s his to keep. For the rest of the class, he holds the book close to his chest. He’ll have the words whenever he needs them. 

Donate today to help J3 Foundation build their book collection and make more stories accessible for the kids that need them the most. 


J3 Foundation

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(310) 924-2422
Director of Operations: Bobbie Boggs-Miller

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J3 is excited to announce a unique opportunity to double your donation! Glaser Weil has generously offered to match the first $10,000 in recurring donations!


To equip 4th grade scholars with the skills, habits, confidence, and book access they need for a lifetime of reading success

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The J3 Cozy Reading Club teaches critical reading competencies through an evidence-based and culturally-relevant curriculum. It allows our Compton students, regardless of income or background, to receive a high-quality after-school reading intervention program. As the Director of Educational Services and former K-8 school principal, I have seen how the J3 Cozy Reading Club has impacted our students’ academic and social development and continues to do so each year. Most importantly, our students love attending J3 sessions! Thank you, J3 Foundation!
Jennifer Kang-Moon, Ed.D.
J3 Client and Director of Educational Services
K-8 Compton Unified School District

Struggling to Read, J3’s Cozy Reading Club Makes it Fun

“The Cozy Reading Club, J3 Foundation’s premier reading program, is special in how intentional every piece of the two-hour after-school program is,” Stacee Longo, Sr. Program Director of J3 Foundation says. “We take a holistic approach with our students by focusing on reading skills, mindfulness, social-emotional learning, restorative practices, and so much more.”

J3 Foundation is raising $864,000 to expand its Cozy Reading Club to 24 additional schools, double its book collection from 5,000 books to 10,000, and to reach 650 more students of color who are struggling to read. 

A $1,500 donation will add 100 books to the J3 collection for our students to read. A $5,000 donation will support the costs of hiring highly qualified educators from our partner schools. A $12,000 donation can fund an entire trimester for a school in need. And a $36,000 donation will fund an entire year of the Cozy Reading Club for 30 students at one school. 

“The magic of our program is that we provide a safe space where all students get to rediscover the joy and magic of a good book,” says Longo.

Key Supporters

Morgan Stanley Gift Fund
McKuin Frankel Whitehead LLP
Oceankind Foundation
Richardson Charitable Foundation
Once Upon a Time Bookstore
Armanino LLP
Barry Family Foundation
Book Foundation
Brother International
CTBC Bank Corp.
Glaser Weil LLP
Humberto & Maria Gray
James Worthy
Joel & Sherry McKuin
Lido Advisors LLC
Macquarie Capital USA
The Brentwood Inn