“Live life with purpose!” Judy Koch was fond of saying—and that she did most notably with the founding of nonprofit Bring Me a Book in 1997, propelled by a mission to help all children grow a joyful and sustainable reading habit—supported by family engagement and a partnership with the public library.
Judy’s life of purpose was driven by her unique kindness, generosity of spirit, and joie de vivre. Judy made every day an adventure, shaped by her earnest belief that it was always possible to help others.
Judy’s life mission was to spread joyful literacy. It was born during her first career as a junior high English teacher and deepened in her second career as the owner and CEO of RSP Manufacturing, a precision sheet metal fabrication company that served Silicon Valley tech companies.
Here, in the RSP factory, she created a model of “workplace literacy,” and built a library of exquisite children’s literature for her employees, primarily recent immigrants from Mexico, to bring home to their children. After she sold the business, it was this model that launched Bring Me a Book.
Inspired by the words of poet and author Walter de la Mare: “I know well that only the rarest kind of best can be good enough for the young,” Judy curated book collections for young children from birth to age five.
Judy understood—through her close observations of children over the years—which books they loved best and wanted to hear read aloud again and again. The Bring Me Book legacy collections are known as “Read It Again!” books. They never fail to delight those fortunate children who get to choose books to take home so they can, with their families, read the books again and again.
Judy never tired of seeing a child’s face light up with the joy of reading. She gave her heart to the literacy lives of children, lighting their lives and ours, with her kindness, generosity, and love.
We are so honored to have supported Judy’s mission and vision and we pledge to continue. As our Bring Me a Book Board member Jon Porter said, “It’s now up to us to carry on Bring Me a Book in Judy’s name. That’s how we honor and remember her.”
If desired, memorials in Judy’s honor can be made to Bring Me A Book Foundation (www.bringmeabook.org).
It was Saturday afternoon when I picked up an incoming call from my daughter.
Barely audible over the shouts of “Mimi, Mimi” coming from what I assumed was the back seat of her car, my daughter said, “Hi Mom, Violet has something she needs to tell you.”
“Mimi, you won’t believe it. I just got reading glasses. They are pink and have flowers and they are for READING!”
“That’s wonderful, honey,” I replied, wondering if she had recently had a vision test and needed to start wearing glasses.
“I am going to bring them with me when I sleep over tonight so that I can read to you” she continued, barely able to contain her excitement.
My daughter cut in, saying “We were at the Dollar Store and Violet picked up a pair of glasses off the display and tried them on. I told her they were magnifying readers to help people when they read. She insisted on trying on a dozen pairs and begged to get a pair, even though I told her she could see just fine.”
When Violet and her brother were dropped off a few hours later, the first thing she did was pull out the adult-sized square reading glasses (with smudged lenses) and put them on.
With a confident glow she stated, “Look Mimi, I have on my readers.”
“Oh, they look fabulous” I told her, “ I know I usually read you a book as soon as you arrive, but we have to leave now to meet your cousins for dinner. So let’s leave your readers here and you can use them tonight when we read a bedtime story.”
We ended up staying out a little later than anticipated and by the time we arrived home, Violet was asleep. Somehow, we got her pajamas on, but a bedtime story was not happening.
Early the next morning, I woke to a whisper in my ear.
“Mimi, Mimi, it’s morning. I have on my readers. Do you want to hear a story?”
I mustered up a groggy “Of course.”
And then, without abandon and with the confidence and determination of a four-year-olds imaginative mind, she proceeded to “read” me not one book, but three. I complimented her after each book, not only on her skill but the power of those incredible readers.
When she was done, she took off the readers and that was that. It was time to get ready for a new day.
To many grandparents, a pair of reading glasses may make it a bit easier to see, but to a young child, they might be just the magic needed to see themselves as an accomplished reader.