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Mentoring Children through ePal Program

Updated on October 7, 2014

Making a Difference in the Life of a Child

Are you looking for a volunteer program where you can make a difference in the life of a child?

In2Books has a wonderful program that matches up an adult with a child to be reading pen pals.

I became involved in this program last year when I was searching for a way that I could volunteer from my home. It is a very simple program that you can do right from your home computer. The time involvement in the entire year is probably less time than it takes to write a lens and yet it can make a difference in the life of a child!

What a great way to volunteer! I would encourage all of my internet friends to read over this article and seriously consider becoming an eMentor.

This is my 50th lens and I wanted to write something that would make a difference. I hope you will consider this challenge.

photo is my granddaughters on their first day of school

What is In2Books?

In2Books is a curriculum based eMentoring program for ePals. The program has been in existence for 10 years and is growing each year. Their goal is to "make a difference in lives of children across the country."

In the program 3rd to 5th grade students are connected with carefully screened adult pen pals. The student and the adult read 5 different books during the year and exchange letters about the books.

Last year was my first year in the program and I read the books and exchanged 6 different letters with my ePal. In2Books makes it really easy to exchange the letters, setting up templates for you to use (or you can use your own) and providing a method to exchange the letters that protects both your privacy and the privacy of the student.

In2Books pen pals are role models for their ePals. They help to show them the importance of reading and writing in everyday life and model adult thinking and experiences. As an adult pen pal you can encourage the student to work harder and to think about the concepts in the books.

Please join me this year in making a difference in the life of a child! Sign up by clicking on the purple banner ..Become a Pen the In2Books website.

Information for this lens was gathered from my personal experience and from the In2Books website at In2Books


I am now starting my 6th year as an ePal mentor. I have just received my first letter from my penpal. He is a 10 year old from Indiana named Israel. Israel enjoys soccer and video games. I am looking forward to sharing letters with him about the books we'll read.

2012-2013 School Year

Notes from 2012-2013 School Year

ePal Program

September 10th

I have just written and posted my introduction letter, so now I am waiting to get matched with my pen pal for this year. Here is a copy of my letter.

Dear Pen Pal,

My name is Grandma Mary Beth and I am really looking forward to meeting you. I love to read and I think it will be really fun to read books and discuss them in our letters.

First let me tell you a little bit about myself. I worked in the business world for over 30 years and I retired 6 years ago. Now I have plenty of time for my hobbies: photography, reading, crafts, and traveling.

My favorite thing to do is traveling to take photographs of lighthouses. I have photographed over 50 lighthouses in the past six years. I find them fascinating parts of our history. Have you ever visited a lighthouse?

I also love to read. My favorite types of books are mysteries and historical novels. What are your favorite books to read? What type of books do you enjoy?

I share my crafts with the people in my Mother's home. There is a group of 12 people who live in her home and they love to do crafts with me each Friday.

I have two children and four young granddaughters. They all live in different cities from me and I love to travel to visit them. It is so much fun spending time with my granddaughters.

How many people are in your family? Do you have any pets? What is your favorite thing to do?

I am really looking forward to getting your letter.

More notes 2013 This years teachers did the in2books program a bit different and she is only doing two books this year. The first book I am reading is in the fiction section 'Grandma Torrelli makes Soup" by Sharon Cheech.

Books for 2011-2012 School Year

First Letter from my EPal

It is September 14th and I just received my first letter from my ePal. Her name is Aubrey and I am looking forward to reading books with her.

Here is her introductory letter.

Dear Mary,

HI my name is Aubrey and my friends name is Elia and my good friends name is Jesenia.My favorite food is Sushi.I love to play outside with my brother and sister and hang around with my family.My mom and dad were on a cruise .Sometimes I get to do fun stuff with my mom and dad.I love my family.

Your pen pal,


Note- March, 2012--This year turned out to be a bit disappointing. I read one book with my penpal and then she left the program. That sometimes happens when a student moves or leaves for some other reason. Anyway, they matched me up with a second pen pal and we did get one book to read, but the teacher kept sending delay notices. Today I found out that teacher is not having her class finish the In2Books sessions. I'm a bit disappointed but I know sometimes things just don't work out. This is the first year I've had a disappointing experience so I'll be looking forward to being in the program again next year!

2010-2011 School Year

A Journal of my ePal adventures!

Writing the Introduction Letter


The first thing that you do before each school year is to write the introduction letter. The teachers will then take the letters and match them up with a student. Here is a copy of what I wrote for the coming school year.

My name is Mary and I am really excited to be your pen pal during the coming year. I love to read and I love to talk about the books that I read. I am in a book club with a group of my friends and we all read the same book and then get together to discuss the book. I think sharing books with friends makes reading even more fun. I am looking forward to reading the same books that you read and then sharing emails about the books. It will be fun to hear about your favorite parts and characters in books.

I'd like to take a few minutes now to introduce myself. I retired a few years ago after working 30 years in the business world. I now have lots of time to pursue my hobbies which include taking photographs of lighthouses and butterflies, reading, volunteering at the Butterfly House and visiting my grandchildren.

I have two grown children and three granddaughters. My granddaughters are Rachel age 7, Ella age 5 and Kate age 1. I will have a new grandchild this coming January.

I like to read most any kind of books, but my favorites include mysteries and biographies. I love to read about the lives of people and their adventures. The book I am currently reading talks about the gold rush in Alaska almost 200 years ago. It is really interesting to hear about the struggles the characters went through to try to reach the gold fields.

What types of books do you like to read? Tell me a little bit about your family. What do you like to do for fun? Do you play any sports?

I am really looking forward to hearing from you and getting to know you. I'm looking forward to a great year of book reading together!

Your pen pal,


My First Letter from this year's pen pal

2010-2011 Pen Pal

Today, September 22nd is an exciting day! I just received a letter from my new pen pal, ,Tyler.

Dear Pen Pal,

Welcome to in2books. I hope you had a great summer this year. I am pet lover. How about you? I have a cat that is named Peaches and and a dog named Casey. She is a lab. She is really old. She is almost as old as my sister. She is 10 years old in human years. I have a 2 year old dog named Hank. He is funny because he is so ugly that he's cute. Do you have any animals? I have a big sister that is 12 years old.

What kind of books do you like to read?

Now, I will write a return letter to Tyler and then we will wait to hear the title of the first book we will be reading

A Letter from the Teacher

ePal 2010-2011

September 22 Here is a letter I received from Tyler's teacher today. I am really looking forward to working with her.

Dear Pen Pals,

I was so thrilled to read all of your wonderful letters this evening. You all lead such interesting lives and I know my kiddos will really enjoy reading your letters tomorrow!

My students are third graders and have limited experiences writing letters so be patient with us. We will be working on the conventions of writing this year. However, my first goal for them this year is to develop a love of reading, have meaningful discussions about what they have read, and develop a voice in their writing.

We will be choosing our first books either Friday or Monday. The first unit is the fiction unit and I am looking forward to the students sharing their reading journey with you.

Thank you so much for agreeing to play such an important role in my students' lives. This will be my third year in the In2Books program and I can't begin to tell you how important you are to the students. They check often to see if they have letters waiting. Please feel free to write as often as you would like. The 5 unit letters are the only requirement but my kiddos will be ecstatic anytime they receive a letter.

Once again, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedules to help develop a love of writing and reading in my students.

Have a wonderful first official day of Autumn!

Most warmly,


Fiction Book for 2010 - Grace's Letter to Lincoln

October 12

I have read the book Grace's letter to Lincoln and have written Tyler a letter. Here is an excerpt from my letter:

I just finished reading the first book, Grace's Letter to Lincoln. I thought it was a really interesting book. I hope you enjoy reading it too!

The book was based on a real letter that Grace wrote to Abraham Lincoln when he was running for President. That type of book is called historical fiction. That means it is based on some true facts, but the author writes a story to fill in the details that we do not know. I love reading historical fiction. It lets us look into the past and see how people might have lived during that time period.

What did you like best about the book, Grace's Letter to Lincoln? I think Grace was a very smart little girl to figure out where to mail the letter without even asking her parents. She wrote a very nice letter too. She spent a little time asking Mr. Lincoln about his family before making the suggestion that he grow a beard.

What do you think about Grace's suggestion to Mr. Lincoln? When we see President Lincoln now we are used to seeing him with the beard. I think it made him look older and wiser. It was very interesting that a little girl suggested it to him.

Tyler, how are your pets doing. Do you enjoy playing with them? My dog Patchie always liked to play ball. He would run and chase it all over. I hope you are enjoying school this year. I am looking forward to hearing from you about the book.

November 12

Today I received a letter back from Tyler. He said he liked the book and talked about a sad part in the book. He asked about my son's dogs and said he was glad to hear from me.

Social Studies Book for 2010-2011 - Tut's Mummy

The class is studying a section on ancient Egypt, so this book on King Tut fits in very well with their studies. I have enjoyed reading the book and have learned a few new things too!

Here is the letter my ePal, Tyler wrote on the book Tut's Mummy

I liked reading Grace's Letter to Lincoln to. I also liked reading Tut's Mummy. It is fun to read fact books because it is fun to learn more information. I like reading a whole bunch especially fact books. Tut's mummy is really fun because it talks about history and the brave man tyring to find a mummy and he did find what he was looking for, didn't he? I guess that you just have to put a little effort in to it. You will find what your looking for even though that it took him ten years to find it. I think it is a miracle that he found the mummy in very good shape and all that gold was clean. It wasn't all rusty after all most 5,000 years. It is still in good shape. It must have taken him a long time to pick up those beads with those tweezers. There were a lot of beads. But the thread was like replaced with dust because over those years the dust grew around the string the string fell out of the beads. That must of also been a tiring trip too because they had to pull that big thing around the desert all day long. Man, I would be so tired I wouldn't be able to move any more because I would of been plum out of energy that day. I would have liked to have been there the day that he found that mummy because all that gold probably was worth a lot of money. It would of been a special day for him.

I would NOT like to live in Egypt because it is SO hot there!

I am looking forward to the next book. I wonder what it will be?!

Who was Albert Einstein? - 2011 Biography selection

I enjoyed reading this book on Albert Einstein and writing to Tyler and hearing his insights on the book.

Traditional Tales - Stone Cold Soup

This traditional tale by Marcia Brown was the book Tyler's class chose for the Traditional Tale selection. I had never read this book and was delighted to share it with Tyler. Soon after I had read it my granddaughter put on the play Stone Soup at her school. I thought it was interesting that a book I had never heard of was then introduced to me twice in a months time. It is a delightful tale that has been told in many versions in various countries.

Science Selection - natural disasters

For the science selection, Tyler's class picked the book Earthquakes. The book was written well to give kids an introduction to this natural disaster. It introduced several new words like tsunami, fault line, and disaster. It was a good book to bring up examples in the news and discuss what to do in case of an earthquake.

In2Book Categories

Books I read with my epal in the 2008-2009 school year.


The first book we read was from the fiction section. The children could choose books from three areas : Family, Bullies, or Pen Pals My ePal chose one from the Pen Pal section.

This delightful little book is the first book I read with my ePal. It is a very fitting book because it talks about a child who has a teacher as a pen pal.

In the book the child writes to the teacher about a whale that she thinks she sees in her pond and the teacher writes back.

This story was a good way to introduce writing letters to my ePal. The book is fairly short and yet gives a lot of opportunity to ask questions and to encourage him to think about what he was reading.

Social Studies

In the Social Studies area the children had three groups of books to choose from: Maps, Elections, or Westward Expansion

In this section the website gave several help sections on each book. The sections included, thought provoking questions, related websites, vocabulary, quizzes and a crossword puzzle.

I really enjoyed reading the Map book that my ePal picked. In my letter I told him about a trip we had recently taken and how I used the map to help me find the places we were interested in seeing.

I think it is important to help the child to see how what he is reading is relevant to daily life.


In this section the students were to choose a biography to read. They could choose from three areas Inventors, Explorers, or Heroes.

For the book on Christopher Columbus the website provided helpful questions for the eMentor to ask. Here are some examples:

1. What was the purpose of Columbus’ first voyage? Did he find what he was looking for? What did he find?

2. The sailors wanted to turn back but Columbus never did. Why do you think he kept going?

3. What do you think the Indians were thinking when they first saw Columbus and his men?

4. How did he treat Columbus treat the “Indians”? How do you think we should act when we encounter new people or unfamiliar things?

The sample questions really helped when writing to the ePal. It gave good ideas of questions to help the child think through the book.

Traditional Tales

This is one of the books in the section entitled Traditional Tales. In this section the children could choose from books in three areas: Fractured Fairy Tales, Why, and Tricksters.

In each section the teacher would let the child choose from a couple of books that matched their reading level.

In this section on the website the mentor is given several areas of help. For each book there was a summary section, issues to consider, related books, and features.

In2 Books provided help every step of the way.


In the science section the children could choose books from the following areas:

Natural Disasters, Plants, and Weather.

The book shown here How a Seed Grows is in the Plants section. In this section the website provides several vocabulary words for the eMentor to use to help the child stretch his/her vocabulary. Some of the words for this book were: chlorophyll, flower,germinate, life cycle, and photosynthesis.

More Books in the Reading Program

Here are some more of the selections at In2Books. Have you read any of these? Please vote on your favorites.

Are you Ready to Join me in the In2Books Challenge?

See results

Please share your thoughts on this program - I'd love to hear from you

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    • tfsherman lm profile image

      tfsherman lm 

      4 years ago

      What a great program, it really sounds like my cup of tea. I'd love to sign up for it. Thanks for the intro.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Oh yes, I knew I'd heard of the In2Books reading program once before, and it was because I had visited this article in the past! Now, I am definitely going to investigate further, thanking you for the reminder!

    • Susan Zutautas profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I'd never heard of this program before. I used to volunteer at several of schools where I live. I'd go in two or three times a week and help children with reading disabilities. I loved doing it and found it very rewarding. The ePal program is something I'd be very interested in doing. Do you happen to know if they take Canadian Volunteers?

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 

      5 years ago from New York City

      What a great way to encourage reading and companionship, crossing generations and mentoring. I can't imagine one better.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 

      5 years ago

      I didn't heard about iPals, so I am impressed, and looks interesting to me, and good for kids.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      5 years ago from Canada

      What an interesting program the eBook program is. Mentoring a child is one of the most important things that a person could ever do. You truly are an amazing person.

    • FancyThatUSA profile image


      5 years ago

      Sounds like a great programme! Wonder if they have a version of this in UK

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have never heard of the In2Books program; thank you for enlightening me. This sounds like a fantastic way of making a difference in a child through books. I just might sign up!

    • MissionBoundCre profile image


      6 years ago

      So awesome! I can't do it right now but I'm happy to know about because I have someone in mind. Thank you for sharing this - love it.

    • mbgphoto profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Beth Granger 

      7 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      @mrducksmrnot: So glad to hear you've signed up. I have been doing it for 4 years now and find it a very rewarding program. A little different each year depending on the age of child and the involvement of the teacher but each year good in their own way. Hope you enjoy it too!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Just submitted my info. Can't wait to get started. What a wonderful program.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What a great idea. Guess what both the child and the in2book's adult end up learning and sharing. This is what real education is about. Thanks for a wonderful lens. You have have been blessed by Angels from Heaven on this lens for sure. God Bless You _/\_

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 

      7 years ago from Scotland

      I just love the whole concept of this programme. Blessed by a passing Angel

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm out and about for the Angels April Fools' Day Quest and leaving

      ~ Squidoo Angel Blessings ~

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow! That is awesome!! What a beautiful idea!

    • LissaKlar LM profile image

      LissaKlar LM 

      7 years ago

      I just became a RocketMom's SquidAngel for a week and I had to come back and bless this lens!

    • LissaKlar LM profile image

      LissaKlar LM 

      7 years ago

      I'm going to check out the site and consider it. What a great way to volunteer!

    • javr profile image


      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Sounds like a great way to encourage children. This lens has been blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      7 years ago

      Gives me goosebumps- love it -:)

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Quick 

      7 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Fantastic! You are a hero to volunteer in this way!

      Anything that gets kids reading is a winner in my book. (get the pun?)

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      8 years ago

      I never heard of this before, but it is wonderful and I am going to find out more about it, thank you so much

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      8 years ago

      I didn't know about this, its wonderful, thank you so much!

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles

      Back to give this lens a blessing

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 

      8 years ago

      This sounds like a great idea. Anything that encourages children to read and enjoy books has to be good.

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      This sounds a great programme Mary Beth. Perhaps we should introduce it over here.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      I never got around to signing up for this last year. It does sound great and we have a good library where I can get the books. I don't know if I travel too much for this, though since it is done by email, maybe that won't matter.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Informative lens. I have never heard of ePal. Thanks for the information

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 

      8 years ago from Scotland

      As someone who taaught English to children who had emotional and behavioural difficulties, we were always trying new ways to capture their interest and getting them to read, or indedd help them to read. This is the most wonderful project I think I have ever come accross and I do not believe anything like this exists in the UK, but it should. I am going to look into this. It is so much more than reading a book...we had small success with peer support on a 1-1 basis, an dthe children enjoyed the help from older kids that they respected, I loved reading this page thankyou for sharing it on such a lovely occaision too your 50th lens.

    • annieangel1 profile image


      8 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      what a wonderful idea Mary Beth - I wish we had something like it in England, too many young people are missing out on the joy of reading because their parents don't read.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I am all for a program, any program, that sincerely works to help children be mentored and connect with an inspirational adult figure.

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      What a good scheme this is. Perhaps we could copy it over here across the pond.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      8 years ago from UK

      I think this is an amazing idea and came back to leave an *~*~ Angel Blessing ~*~*

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      What an interesting program. I don't think I can do it now...but will re-consider at another time.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      What a fascinating program. As a retired librarian, I'm all for anything that encourages kids to read more (or to read at all).

      I really think this is a good volunteer opportunity for me.

    • KarenTBTEN profile image


      8 years ago

      Sounds like a great opportunity for volunteering, particularly for those who don't drive.

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 

      8 years ago from California

      Great program, you portrayed it well.... *Blessed*

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Passing through to bless this worthy lens. Happy new year!

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      8 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      this sounds like an awesome program! great job and blessed.

    • Laniann profile image


      9 years ago

      I enjoyed reading your lens about this program. I can see why you are excited, it is a wonderful program.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Sounds like something worth getting passionate about and making a lens on.

      Blessings to you for making this to get the word out, and on this lens.

      Happy Thanksgiving,


    • kerbev profile image


      9 years ago from Upstate, NY

      This sounds like an amazing program!

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image


      9 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      What a beautiful program for children! Thank you for helping these children.

    • ZenandChic profile image


      9 years ago

      This sounds wonderful!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Joined up with the program this year for the first time. Looking forward to a great year!

    • EditPhotos profile image

      Edit Photos 

      9 years ago from Earth

      This is a wonderful program! They are a partner of First Book, one of my favorite charities. 6 Star Blessing ******

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Ha! I'd already visited and 5-starred this lens!

    • JanieceTobey profile image


      9 years ago

      What a fantastic idea! Thanks for sharing this information about the eMentoring program!

    • GramaBarb profile image


      9 years ago from Vancouver

      I clicked on your lens in Squidig and I am glad I did! Terrific lens!

    • blue22d profile image


      9 years ago

      Sounds like an excellent program. I think this would really work well between students if monitored. Five stars and a lensroll to my lens: best online reference

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 

      9 years ago from Los Angeles

      Sounds like a wonderful program! I'm going to think seriously about whether I would be able to do this.

    • EdTecher profile image

      Heidi Reina 

      9 years ago from USA

      In2Books is a great program that doesn't take a lot of your time. They're looking for 5,000 new volunteers this school year. I started last year and really enjoyed corresponding with my penpal 5th grader.

    • AlishaV profile image

      Alisha Vargas 

      9 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      Great lens and congratulations on your 50th!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Yah 50 lenses! This a great lens for your 50th! Sounds like a wonderful program!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 

      9 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      I learn something more about you every day. You truly are a lovely person. I teach ASL now, so don't think I can handle another class but would love to if I could. 5*s for a great lens.

    • Kiwisoutback profile image


      9 years ago from Massachusetts

      Awesome work! This seems like a great program.

    • Brookelorren LM profile image

      Brookelorren LM 

      9 years ago

      Congratulations on 50 lenses! This sounds like a wonderful program.

    • EpicFarms profile image


      9 years ago

      What a neat program! Congratulations on an excellent 50th lens.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      9 years ago from USA

      Great lens!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      What a super idea! I will come back and read this again and study some more. I wonder if I could do that? wow! Blessed by a joyful Squid Angel!

    • RickyRobi LM profile image

      RickyRobi LM 

      9 years ago

      Thank you for writing this lens. I would never have know about this program otherwise. I just signed up.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I'm a mentor (I did a lens about my experience) so I was very interested in your lens. I think I may sign up! You did a good job explaining the program and making it sound like fun! Thanks.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      9 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      What a great thing to do for your 50th! Congrats on that by the way! Sounds like a great program that I am interested it.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Excellent 50th lens and this program sounds like

      something that a housebound person could do.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 

      9 years ago

      This is a great program



    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      9 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Wow, congrats on 50! What a great lens about a wonderful sounding program. Guess I should check it out ...

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      What a wonderful way to give back, Mary Beth! Congratulations on your 50th lens! Woot!! You made it!!

    • justholidays profile image


      9 years ago

      Nice lens and great program indeed! Wish you the best of luck and hope lots of lensmasters will enroll!

      Happy "Lensday" :)


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This sounds like a really great program! Congrats on your 50th lens, Mary Beth! You go girl!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      9 years ago from United States

      This sounds like a great program and I am certain you make an excellent pal!


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