I'll Build You a Bookcase: A Bilingual Book to Support Early Literacy


I'll Build You a Bookcase is a special book for ages 0-3 uniquely designed to help parents and caregivers read with their children.

I’ll Build You a Bookcase

Lee & Low Books is proud to announce our newest title available in four bilingual editions:

Told in simple, sweet rhyme, I'll Build You a Bookcase celebrates the joy of reading and discovering new stories.

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Building Early Language Skills

Reading for even ten minutes a day has proven to build important language skills, curiosity and memory in young children, and encourages a positive association with books and reading later in life.

Features of this book:
-    High-frequency words 
-    Illustrations support the text and message
-    Engaging art from award-winning illustrator
-    Contemporary art features diverse families
-    Topic and concepts familiar to children 

A Unique Partnership

In a groundbreaking initiative funded by the William Penn Foundation, OpenIDEO launched the Early Childhood Book Challenge in 2019 seeking an original story for children ages 0 to 3 that would inspire children and their caregivers to read together.

Author Jean Ciborowski Fahey’s winning manuscript was selected by a committee of literacy and family engagement experts. As an early literacy specialist and parent educator, Fahey crafted a story that celebrates literacy and supports early language development. Coupled with charming and vibrant art by award-winning illustrator Simone Shin, I’ll Build You a Bookcase is an essential addition to every bookshelf.

With support from the William Penn Foundation, 25,000 copies will be distributed for free to Philadelphia families with young children, including through Reach Out and Read. Contact jeisenberg@leeandlow.com to purchase books for the families in your region.

ReadWilliam Penn Foundation Chooses Lee & Low Books as Publisher for the Early Childhood Book Challenge

ReadLee & Low Books Signs Award-Winning Illustrator for Early Childhood Book Challenge

WatchLet's Talk Children's Books: A conversation with writing, publishing & family engagement experts

Watch: Announcement: Early Childhood Book Challenge – Top Manuscript

What People Are Saying

“What an honor to have the opportunity to create art that will encourage and inspire young readers.”

–Simone Shin, illustrator of I’ll Build You a Bookcase

“Talking and reading with children is how we lay the groundwork for strong readers in the future, even when it seems like they are too young to understand. This book seeks to engage children with its emotionally resonant writing and storyline, while giving ideas to adults about how to support early language development. We are eager to share I’ll Build You a Bookcase with Philadelphia families, and we hope to see this book reach families around the country.”

–Elliot Weinbaum, Program Director at William Penn Foundation

“Shin’s gorgeous artwork incorporates a sense of joy and inclusiveness that’s sure to engage young readers. We are proud to have her as part of this groundbreaking project to promote early childhood literacy.”

–Jason Low, Publisher of Lee & Low Books

About the Creators

Jean Ciborowski Fahey is an author, parent educator, and speaker dedicated to promoting an early love of reading in children. She also consults for a variety of literacy initiatives and organizations and creates home literacy curriculum for parent-home visitors and early intervention specialists. She lives in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts with her husband, Tom, and dog, Indigo. Visit her online at readingfarm.net.

Simone Shin is a children’s book illustrator whose work appeared in Lee & Low’s poetry collection I Remember: Poems and Pictures of Heritage. Shin is the recipient of a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators, and her illustrations have appeared in the New York Times, Real Simple, Wired, and other publications. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area. You can see more of her work at simoneshin.com.

Find Out More


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About Lee & Low Books
Established in 1991, Lee & Low Books is the largest children’s book publisher in the United States specializing in diversity and has been a leader in the movement for diversity in children’s publishing for 30 years. Lee & Low titles have received major awards and honors including the Coretta Scott King Award, the Pura Belpré Award, the Sibert Medal, the NAACP Image Award, and many more. The company’s longstanding initiatives include the New Visions and New Voices Awards, two annual writing contests for unpublished authors of color that have led to the publication of more than 20 debut authors. Visit leeandlow.com to learn more.

About William Penn Foundation
The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, foster creativity that enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. In 2021, the Foundation will grant more than $117 million to support vital efforts in the region. Learn more at www.williampennfoundation.org

About Lee & Low Books

Lee & Low Books is the largest multicultural children's book publisher in the United States.
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