Madison Reading Project sets goal of $40,000 & 20,000 books as holiday drive begins

Madison Reading Project 2

MADISON, Wis.– Is there anything better than waking up on Christmas morning to find a gift with your name on it underneath the tree?

The Madison Reading Project is asking for your help to make that happen for thousands of area kids this year.

The non-profit is trying to raise $40,000 and collect 20,000 books between November 15th and December 15th as part of their second-ever Community Book Drive. The event is a partnership with the Empty Stocking Club, a charity focused on giving every child at least one brand-new, high-quality toy at Christmas, regardless of their family’s financial situation.

“Having a new book is exciting for any age, but especially for kids,” Madison Reading Project founder Rowan Childs told News 3 Now.

That’s why, for the second year in a row, her non-profit is making sure those toys are accompanied by books: brand-new books.

“Just like anyone else, when you get to pick out a new book or it’s a book that’s been selected for you, it’s got that crisp feeling. You can write your name inside the cover. It’s yours. And it’s even more special,” she said.

Childs and her team came up with the idea for a community-wide holiday drive last winter when most kids were learning from home, and some didn’t have anything new to read. In 2020, Madison Reading Project Inc. collected enough new books for 10,000 kids, so this year, the organization is upping its goal to 12,000.

And that’s where you come in…

How to help

Starting November 15th, 20 Dane County coffee shops and community centers will serve as book donation stations. Click here for a map.

You can drop off one (or several) books at any of the sites.

Not sure what to buy? Click here for the Madison Reading Project book drive wishlist.

“Every single book donation and every single monetary donation adds up,” said Childs. “And with this being the Community Book Drive, we’re hoping thousands of people will pitch in,” Childs said.

“To expand our reach, we’re partnering with the Empty Stocking Club, the Boys and Girls Club, and Reach Dane, along with other community programs that will supply books to children before winter break,” Madison Reading Project Program Director Deirdre Steinmertz added. “We want all kids to have a brand new book for the holidays.”

You can also donate money to the Madison Reading Project’s holiday campaign here.

Donations to the Empty Stocking Club can be made at

“Whether it’s one or ten or 100, $25 or $100, it all adds up,” Childs added.

READ MORE: Having books in the home is the single-biggest indicator of academic success