A Books for Kids Champion: Jenny Leibl

Jenny Leibl of Wauwatosa first discovered Books for Kids through a volunteer visit with her company, Northwestern Mutual. Their crew was put to work in the book room.

“We spent our time going through the books that were donated and prepping them for distribution to the kids,” Jenny recalls.

While cleaning and repairing the books, Jenny learned more about Books for Kids from Next Door staff. She couldn’t get over how many children and families benefit from the literacy program year after year.

“I was just really taken aback and impressed by the volume of books and the number of kids and families so positively impacted,” Jenny said.

Feeling inspired by her first visit, Jenny launched a long-term relationship with Next Door. As the leader of her daughter Sarah’s Girl Scout troop, she brought the troop of 17 girls to read with Next Door students in the library as part of the Read with Me experience with Books for Kids.

“I still remember standing there and looking across the room and each Girl Scout was just really into reading to the students,” Jenny said.

The Girl Scout troop later came back to volunteer in the book room cleaning and repairing book


 Today, Jenny often brings her three children – Andy, Betsy (pictured above) and Sarah ( pictured above) – to volunteer at Next Door on their days off from school. Sarah especially loves reading to the children.

“I like it because the kids are always super-energized and so happy when they’re reading,” Sarah said.

Sarah and her brother, Andy, have also celebrated birthdays and asked their friends for book donations for Next Door instead of gifts.

“Some of them wanted to know why and I told them, ‘I’m donating to Next Door because I don’t need any more presents'” Sarah said.

Jenny is thrilled to see her children getting involved in service fostering childhood literacy and continuing a family tradition going back to her childhood years.

“Volunteering and giving back to the community has always been a part of my life so I really look for opportunities for my kids to do that, too, and to have that chance to pay it forward,” Jenny said.

To learn more about book drive opportunities, book cleaning and “Read with Me,” contact Jackie at 414.999.2509 or at jshanti@nextdoormke.org.