Foundation News

Dec 30, 2014

Book Love Foundation Announces Grant Awards for 2014

The Book Love Foundation is pleased to announce that ten 500-book classroom libraries were awarded this summer to high school and middle school English teachers from seven different states.

The ten libraries were granted to:

  • Terri Burg, a 15-year veteran teacher from Grass Lake Middle School in Grass Lake, Michigan.
  • Melissa Cournia, in her 9th year of teaching at Standing Rock Middle School in Fort Yates, North Dakota
  • Kevin English, a 3rd year teacher from Wayne Memorial High School in Wayne, Michigan
  • Kelcey Grogan, a second-year teacher from Southeastern High School in Detroit, Michigan.
  • Diane Hamilton, also a 3rd year teacher from Bradshaw Mountain Middle School in Dewey, Arizona
  • Rebekah Hess, a 6th year teacher at the Young Adults Project in Leesburg, Virginia
  • Courtney Johnson, a 13-year veteran teaching at Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School in Columbus, Ohio
  • Jennifer Kelly, who has taught for 21 years and is currently at Woodstown Middle School in Woodstown, New Jersey
  • Serena Kessler, an 18-year veteran teacher from Romulus High School in Romulus, Michigan
  • Ben Wilkinson, a 5th year teacher at Knoxville Catholic High School in Knoxville, Tennessee

“Each of these teachers will receive a 500-book library of titles that have been carefully chosen to engage adolescent readers,” said Penny Kittle, President and founder of the Book Love Foundation. “The Book Love Foundation chooses 400 of the books, paying special attention to include a wide range of genres and reading levels that are of high interest to student readers,” said Kittle. “The remaining 100 books can be chosen by the grant winner and his or her students from our curated list of middle school and high school titles."

The mission of the Book Love Foundation is to help secondary level teachers develop a life-long love of reading in their students by providing libraries of highly engaging independent reading books to use in their teaching. "Research has repeatedly shown that students who read independently and extensively improve their vocabulary and ability to understand complex texts, and are better prepared for the rigors of post-secondary education,” notes Kittle. Kittle has 30 years of experience in teaching, and has written seven books on the teaching of reading and writing with her publisher, Heinemann. She spends a portion of her year consulting domestically and internationally with schools seeking to improve reading and writing instruction.

“Each of our grant winners has already demonstrated a commitment to developing students’ independent reading lives. Most of our grant winners teach in high poverty areas, and all of our grant winners have spent their own money to purchase books to build their libraries; one even traded her children’s old clothes to get books for her classroom library,” reported Kittle.

The Book Love Foundation received 136 grant applications in 2014 from across the United States. In addition to granting the ten classroom libraries listed above, the Foundation awarded five grants of $500 each to be used to augment the classroom libraries already started by this year’s finalists:

  • Erica Beaton, of Cedar Springs High School in Cedar Springs, Michigan
  • Joanna McNeal Carden, of Eastside Elementary School in Sparta, Tennessee
  • Kristinia Haney, of Grapevine-Colleyvill Collegiate Academy in Hurst, Texas
  • Katie Sluiter, of Wyoming Junior High School in Wyoming, Michigan
  • Lori Svatora, of Lincoln North Star High School, in Lincoln, Nebraska

“The Book Love Foundation is grateful for the on-going support of Booksource and Heinemann Publishing, two of our primary benefactors. Each company donated a full library in each of our first two years. In addition, Booksource provides deeply discounted prices to the Foundation, allowing us to stretch our donations as far as possible when choosing books for our libraries,” stated Kittle.

For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation, please visit