Robin Wilson

Executive Director, West County READS

2024 JWCA Honoree

Robin Wilson is a founding Board Member and Executive Director of West County READS. She previously served as a Library Media Specialist in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. During her career, Robin worked at the University of California, Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, the Graduate School of Education, MESA, and the Lawrence Hall of Science. In 2011, Supervisor John Gioia named her El Sobrante’s Woman of the Year as an advocate for children’s literacy.

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Robin Wilson at the Educators Book Depot, which offers free books to teachers to build thier classroom libraries.
Robin's Story

A young girl clutches a flashlight in one hand and the spine of a book in another. She turns the page as raised voices echo throughout the house. She burrows deeper into her covers and the noise fades to a murmur as her attention is drawn deeper into the pages of her latest story.

A bookworm turned book broker, Robin Wilson has dedicated much of her life to helping kids fall in love with reading, just like she did. 

Robin attended Richmond public schools where, as a child, you’d likely find her heading off to the San Pablo Library to fill her arms with as many books as possible, drag them home, and get lost between the pages. 

“A Wrinkle in Time was my favorite book because it would take me some place. It would take me some place out of this world and give me a sense of wonderment."

Her love of reading may have started as a childhood pastime, but it became a source of relaxation, peace, and confidence throughout her life.

Finding Her Strengths

The job of a lifetime wasn’t far away for Robin, and neither was the library. At the age of 23, Robin became the Executive Secretary to Dr. James D. Hart, the Director of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. It was in this role that Robin got to see Shakespeare’s first folio and meet Ansel Adams between long days transcribing Dr. Hart’s dictations. She realized then that her habitual reading had value beyond the refuge that it had always been. And that gave her confidence. 

“Reading gave me the foundation I needed to do a good job as an executive secretary. I could not have done that kind of work without having read a wide variety of different books and getting a feel for academics and narrative.”

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Outside the Educators Book Depot, Robin Wilson scans the Stege Elementary School playground. Wilson is the Excutive Director of West County READS, which sponsors the Depot.

For the Love of Reading

After Robin moved on from UC Berkeley, she began to volunteer in her kids’ schools where she observed how the students’ relationship to reading was anything but joyful. She found in many students a lack of interest, a negative association, and often a lack of confidence in their ability to read.

“What I heard from teachers is that a lot of kids were not reading at grade level. And I just thought that they're never going to get to UC Berkeley if they can't read, can't get over the hump of resenting reading.”

Robin became determined to do something about it, so she decided to become a Library Media Specialist in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. Every week, she spent five days at five different schools across the district, where she quickly learned that many kids didn’t even know what they liked to read. Their association with books was purely through required reading in school. Determined to give students a positive association with books, Robin started asking them about their interests. Armed with newfound insights, Robin identified books that they’d enjoy. Slowly but surely, resistant readers became avid ones.

“When I worked in libraries and worked with students, I would always give out positive advice. They'd say, ‘I can't read that. That's too hard.’ And I'd tell them, ‘You know what? Let's try it. I bet you can do it.’ They would find out that when they were able to accomplish that, they had a lot more confidence in themselves.”

No Such Thing as Too Many Books

Even in retirement, Robin’s passion for helping kids fall in love with reading has only grown. As a co-founder and Executive Board Member of West County Reads, Robin has dedicated much of her time to opening and running the Educators Book Depot, whose mission is to support teachers and get as many books in the hands of kids as possible. It’s a free resource for any teacher, where educators from West Contra Costa and across the East Bay can collect up to 50 free books for their classroom.

“We need kids to be able to read fluidly so they can keep learning. I think that that can give a lot of confidence to a person. It gave me confidence to apply for jobs that people might not have, some people thought I wasn't qualified for. But I nailed it anyway.”

The power of books wasn’t lost on Robin. She has been working tirelessly to share that spark of joy that she gets when the spine of a book cracks open and a whole new world is revealed. As Robin knows so well, there is more than just a story at the end of that book. There’s confidence, too.

Robin's Supported Organizations

As a 2024 Julie Wright Changemaker Awardee, Wilson selected Way 2 Love Inc. and West County READS to receive her awardee-designated $10,000 grant fund. 


Way 2 Love Inc.


West County READS

About the Chamberlin Education Foundation

The Chamberlin Education Foundation supports initiatives that advance education equity and academic excellence in West Contra Costa public schools. CEF’s grants and programs support effective education leadership, high-quality curriculum and instruction, educator talent pipelines, and help create and sustain a student-centered public education ecosystem.

Click here for more about our team, our vision, and our foundation’s guiding principles.