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

Donate now!

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

Matching Funds — $1,500 Funds a Young Reader

One of the reasons J3 Foundation has been so effective is that it’s stayed laser focused on what it does best: teaching kids to read. The Cozy Reading Club anticipates serving 700+ students this year and J3 hopes to double that number by attracting more private donations. Creating a new reader who will grow up to be a positive contributor to society costs the organization just $1,500 annually.
“I think it’s the best $1,500 we as a society could ever invest,” says Joe Blackstone, J3 Foundation co-founder. “And that number will go down as we get more students.”
Glaser Weil will match every dollar raised, up to $10,000.


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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We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s director of development and/or Executive Director.

I appreciate J3 for the organization’s commitment to doing everything possible when it comes to reading proficiency. It’s rewarding to see your dollars make an impact immediately. J3 Foundation is so well run that I don’t have to think twice about the actual support that’s being implemented. The rate they’re scaling is just amazing. J3 sees every child’s potential and never gives up on its mission.
– Carron Brown
J3 Advisory Board Member Vice President of Strategy,
Planning and Operations: Warner Bros. Discovery

Key Supporters

LA Lakers Youth Foundation
Warner Bros-Discovery: BOLD
CTBC Bank Corporation
Glaser Weil LLP
Armanino LLP
Barry Family Foundation
Joel & Sherry McKuin
Humberto & Maria Gray
The Book Foundation
Ocean Direct
Jeffrey & Nicole Westheimer
Bob & Karina Matuszak