Nonprofit Open Books Promotes Literacy to Chicago Kids
"What is the book that's going to change that child into a reader?" Stacy Ratner says that she loves thinking about that question. It's part of what inspired her to create Open Books, an initiative to encourage literacy and love for literature through free programs for young students.
Stacy, who lives in Chicago, figured that the city must contain thousands of used books that the owners wouldn't mind parting with, for a good cause. Her idea was to gather donated books and re-sell them, with the goal of funding reading- and writing-focused classes for kids.
"It turns out, there are more than you could ever imagine!" Stacy says, about the used books she received. So she got to work.
Today, Open Books runs programs across Chicago including targeted programs—run by volunteers—for students who are struggling with reading and writing, book fairs where kids can pick from a collection of free books, and broad community activation initiatives focused on getting folks excited about getting lost in a great story.
And Stacy is looking to the future. "I think that our real value add is for the next generation, rather than the current one," she says. Because literacy skills help uplift not just the reader, but also his or her entire community.