Open Books, a Non-Profit Literacy Program in Chicago

Illiteracy in America

Simply put, literacy is the ability to read and write. A more complex definition would define literacy as personal power. A literate person possesses the power to express her thoughts, feelings, opinions and ideas to others in an articulate and coherent manner. With literacy comes self-confidence and productive citizenship. Unfortunately, according to the begintoread.com website, which cites as its statistics source the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, as many as two-thirds of 4th grade students who are unable to read proficiently by the end of that school year will, as adults, end up as recipients of welfare or will land in jail. Such grim statistics call for immediate action. Evidence as to the positive impact of literacy programs is the fact that former inmates who have received help with their literacy skills have only a 16% chance of returning to jail, as opposed to a 70% chance by former inmates who received no literacy training upon or prior to release.

Open Books in Chicago

The effervescent staff and volunteers at Open Books in Chicago are taking a stand by offering practical reading and writing programs to students in elementary through high school, as well as adults. Open Books in Chicago, Illinois, is a non-profit literacy center and bookstore located at 213 W. Institute Place. Founded in 2006 by Stacy Ratner, Executive Director, Open Books began as a "two story dream store," with the revenue of used book sales supporting the non-profit's literacy programs.

Over time and after being IRS certified as a 501©(3) nonprofit, a location was procured and the non-profit's work with schools began to take off. Currently, Open Books works with 10 schools and offers field trips at their location twice each week. Open Books field trips are geared toward grades 4-12.

Other Open Books literacy programs include the Open Books Buddies Reading Program, VWrite and WeWrite. Open Books Buddies Reading Program takes place at Chicago elementary schools. VWrite is a program in which "virtual" volunteers assist high school students with writing skills pertaining to college and career. The adult literacy program offered by Open Books is called WeWrite. We Write focuses on both creative and professional writing skills.

Volunteer at Open Books in Chicago

Individuals who desire to volunteer with Open Books should visit the non-profit's website for information regarding upcoming orientations.

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