The mission of My Own Book – to enhance child literacy in disadvantaged communities by empowering third-grade children to select, purchase and read their very own books – was formulated in 1999 by Burt Freeman, a retired attorney, whose family foundation was then considering a grant to the East Harlem Tutorial Program. During several site visits, he realized how little experience these inner city children had with reading, how few (or no) books they had at home, and how few children lived anywhere near a bookstore. He launched a pilot project at East Harlem Tutorial that has grown into the thriving My Own Book program in 58 schools throughout New York City.

Click herehere to see the Wall Street Journal Profile of My Own Book Founder, Burt Freeman

The Freeman family has established a program endowment and, in addition, provides annual support for administrative expenses as well as book purchases; all other contributions received by My Own Book are applied exclusively to the children’s book allowances.

Until Fall 2012, My Own Book was operated by a group of volunteers under the financial management of The Fund for Public Schools, Inc. (FPS), the nonprofit partner of the New York City Department of Education. In 2012, My Own Book Fund, Inc., a Delaware Corporation, was formed and qualified as a 501(c)(3) public charity. It continues to be volunteer-run, but now operates independently of the FPS, under the supervision of its own Board of Directors. The mission and program, which have proven so successful for almost 2 decades, remain unchanged.

In 2011, My Own Book was awarded the National Book Foundation Innovation in Reading Prize, in recognition of its creation of an innovative method of encouraging a love of reading.