Connecting authors, illustrators and their books with Washington, DC-area students to build equitable access and nurture a lifelong love of reading.
Maria Gianferrari • Hawk Rising • Whetstone Elementary School
Children see themselves as readers, who use their written and visual literacy skills to navigate a complex world and define their own future.
An Open Book was created to provide access to books, authors and illustrators. AOB’s programs offer students in qualifying schools the opportunity to connect with authors, illustrators and their books. Students receive their own signed copy of the featured book to add to their home libraries. A recent study confirmed that growing up with home libraries boosts adult skills in literacy, numeracy and technological problem solving.
During presentations, authors and illustrators interact with classes; while signing personal copies for each student, classroom and school library, they engage in one-on-one conversations with students, creating personal connections that are inspiring the next generation of storytellers.
Engaging School Visits
Preschoolers laughing uproariously as a visiting author regales them with her latest picture book. Elementary school students watching, rapt as an illustrator brings to life a character from his graphic novels. Middle school students working with an award-winning author in a writers’ workshop. High school students discussing with an author their experiences with peer violence as compared to those of the characters in the book they just received.
A student shyly walks up to the table where the author or illustrator is waiting, sharing their name and engaging in a short conversation. Sometimes it’s just to smile and say hello, but other times there’s more to say—a connection with the presentation, or the observation that book creators are “just like us!”
A group of high school students sit in a relaxed and informal setting with an author. No technology, no elaborate presentation, but an honest discussion about current issues covered in the book students receive—bullying, poverty, learning challenges, immigration, domestic abuse, race. Just being seen can make a difference.
Washing, shredding, chopping, mixing – kindergarten students get busy preparing bibimbap with their teachers from nonprofit partner FoodPrints and staff from An Open Book. After meeting author Linda Sue Park and receiving her book, Bee-bim Bop! the students were eager to practice their cooking skills and sample this tasty dish. An Open Book returns after selected events with a creative, connected activity that deepens learning.
Our events reach kids in PreK through Grade 12. Here’s a sample. To stay up-to-date, follow us on social media.
JULISSA ARCE AT CAPITAL CITY PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL
Someone Like Me chronicles life as Latinx, undocumented, and the child of a domestic worker. Further discussion on the need for more representation.
KYLE LUKOFF AT SEATON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Author of When Aidan Became a Brother, talking about transitions, families, and loving your whole self. Little conversations during book signings.
REX OGLE AT IDA B. WELLS MIDDLE SCHOOL
Candid discussions about Free Lunch, his memoir about 6th grade as a Latinx student experiencing poverty, domestic violence, and finding his way.
PATTI KIM AT BUCK LODGE MIDDLE SCHOOL
I’m OK, Kim’s story of a rocky arrival in the US from South Korea, the power of names, and using childhood memories as material to inform your writing.
GABRIELLE BALKAN AT BARNARD ELEMENTARY
Digging into non-fiction and discussing shared knowledge with Flight. Talking wing span and flight speed and aerodynamics and research methodologies.
VASHTI HARRISON AT NOYES ELEMENTARY
Little Leaders, 40 African American women who shaped history. Sharing inspiration behind the book and demonstrating how to draw your own little leaders.
SCHOOLS & INSTITUTIONS VISITED
AUTHOR & ILLUSTRATOR PRESENTATIONS
An Open Book serves Washington, DC-area students in schools, libraries, and other venues for families in need. On average, 85% of the students in the schools we visit quality for free and reduced meals. Since 2011, we have reached nearly 60,000 students, organized 1,424 presentations, and donated more than 70,000 books.
The generous authors and illustrators who donate their time and talent, and the publishers and literary agents who support their efforts, remain the backbone of An Open Book Foundation’s event program. The connections authors and illustrators make with students lie at the heart of an AOB event. They not only share their books with students, they often share their personal stories and their individual journeys – providing a glimpse into possible career paths.
Participating Authors and Illustrators
An Open Book Foundation works with each author and illustrator to tailor each event; past presentations have included writing workshops, science demonstrations, work with primary sources, reading and Q&A, and art projects. Authors and illustrators who’ve participated in our program routinely describe their experience as impactful and meaningful.
Prompted by the nonfiction book, Stripes of All Types, first-graders applied their knowledge of protective coloration to the creation of animals in various habitats. “Let me check my research,” uttered one zoologist as he discerned from the book the exact coloring of a bittern masked by reeds.
Extension activities tie the author presentation to current lessons, engage students in writing and art projects and give students an opportunity to work with professional writers and artists to express themselves creatively and collaborate with their peers. With inspiration ignited by author and illustrator visits, students explore engineering, science, activism, and art with extension activities designed to deepen students’ experiences with the authors’ books – and explore how books can act as catalysts to action and investigation.
Typically, extension activities take place during a follow-up school visit tailored to each classroom’s needs, explorations or passions. AOB’s education coordinator designs and leads most of our extension activities, with careful documentation so staff and teachers can successfully reproduce them in conjunction with similar author/illustrator visits in the future.
Essential to the success of An Open Book Foundation are the dedicated educators and administrators at the schools we visit and the authors and illustrators who participate in our events.
Hannah Barnaby • Garcia & Collette Go Exploring • Mary Harris Mother Jones Elementary School
Combining all our efforts, we look to inspire the quiet kid in the back who always thought she might have a story inside of her, but was never brave enough to believe it. Or the struggling student who finds math and English a challenge but thrives in art and needed to see where that might take him. Perhaps connecting with an immigrant student who truly benefits from seeing someone who understands what they are going through. Finally, connecting with so, so many children and teens through quiet little conversations that happen during book signings.
“I really liked being able to talk to an author who has published and is still writing. It helped me to see more what a future as an author would be like...”
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT
“Thank YOU and the foundation for bringing me to such awesome schools. You guys have such a unique ability to remind us authors/illustrators what making books and sharing books is all about.”
RUTH CHANAUTHOR - ILLUSTRATOR
“I know they will treasure their books for years to come. I wish you could have seen the excitement at dismissal! Personally, this event was a highlight of my teaching career.”
2ND GRADE TEACHER
“It was almost like you could see the wheels turning in some of their heads as they thought about the fact that 'someone just like them was a real author.' Not only did it get them interested in reading the book, it made them realize that writing is possible too. I am excited to let you know that every single one of my students asked me if we could start reading the book on Monday. I have never had this level of excitement over reading a book before.“
MIDDLE SCHOOL ENGLISH TEACHER
SUPPORT AN OPEN BOOK FOUNDATION
An Open Book Foundation depends on the generosity of donors of all types. We gratefully accept donations of any size.
An Open Book Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Jarrett Krosoczka • Hey, Kiddo • Theodore Roosevelt High School
Your contribution will have a direct, meaningful impact on the literacy of a child. Whether you donate $30 to purchase beautiful new hardcover books for 3 PreK students, $100 to cover the cost of a set of books for the school library, or $1,000 to fund books for an entire grade level, you donation furthers the number of students we can reach.
Since 2016, An Open Book Foundation has been recognized by The Catalog for Philanthropy as “one of the best small charities in the Greater Washington region.”
To donate by check, mail your donation to:
An Open Book Foundation
5901 Utah Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20015
To donate online, visit our donation page
Support from corporate and foundation donors is critical to the ongoing success of An Open Book. Our programs are for low-income children from early childhood through high school. While all of our events promote literacy, they also address specific curricular goals including ELL, S.T.E.M., Common Core, and fine arts.
Given the variety and number of An Open Book events, we are happy to match an event(s) with your philanthropic goals. If your staff is interested in seeing the work we do, contact us about attending an event by sending an email to email@example.com.
An Open Book’s funding sources include grants from local government, corporate and family foundations, public charities, and individual donors.
AOB places a printed bookplate label in every book a student receives. For individual, corporate and foundation donations of $5,000 or more, An Open Book will create custom bookplates with your name or logo to include in the books you’ve helped support.
ABOUT AN OPEN BOOK
Meg Medina • Merci Suárez Changes Gears • Takoma Education Campus
An Open Book was founded in 2010 by former children’s booksellers Dara La Porte and Heidi Powell. After years of hosting author events for and recommending books to young neighborhood customers, they continued to struggle with the fact that the vast majority of local students were unable to attend the store’s author events or purchase the books.
After receiving unanimous encouragement from teachers, librarians, authors, illustrators and publishers Dara and Heidi used that positive energy to create An Open Book and begin to take authors into qualifying schools. By the end of 2011, they had hosted 11 events and given away more than 1,000 books to students and libraries.
CONTACT AN OPEN BOOK
Whether you’d like to join our newsletter mailing list, sign up to have An Open Book visit your school, or would like to talk about a nonprofit partnership, we’d love to hear from you.