Connecting Washington, DC-area students with authors, illustrators, and their books 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. 

    Book Signings
    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!” 

    Meaningful Conversations
    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.

    Extension Activities
    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.


    Someone Like Me chronicles life as Latinx, undocumented, and the child of a domestic worker. Further discussion on the need for more representation.


    Author of When Aidan Became a Brother, talking about transitions, families, and loving your whole self. Little conversations during book signings.


    Candid discussions about Free Lunch, his memoir about 6th grade as a Latinx student experiencing poverty, domestic violence, and finding his way.


    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.


    Digging into non-fiction and discussing shared knowledge with Flight. Talking wing span and flight speed and aerodynamics and research methodologies.


    Little Leaders, 40 African American women who shaped history. Sharing inspiration behind the book and demonstrating how to draw your own little leaders.

    SINCE 2011…










    An Open Book visits DC-area schools where, on average, 85% of the students 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.

    Map of An Open Book Site Locations

      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

      Participating Authors Chart

      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.


      Participating schools across the DC area include qualifying public and charter schools, as well as institutions that support students with specific educational needs. We also reach students through after-school programs and other venues serving families in need. We work with schools where at least 50% of the students qualify for free and reduced meals.

      Interested in having An Open Book visit your school? We look forward to partnering with you! Use our School Interest Form to reach out.

      Schools we serve:

      Washington DC

      Ward 1

      • Bancroft Elementary School
      • Benjamin Banneker High School
      • Bruce Monroe Elementary School
      • Cleveland Elementary School
      • Columbia Heights EC – Bell Multicultural HS
      • Columbia Heights EC – Lincoln MS
      • H.D. Cooke Elementary School
      • Jubilee JumpStart
      • Marie Reed Elementary School
      • Meridian Public Charter School
      • Tubman Elementary School

      Ward 2

      • Garrison Elementary School
      • Seaton Elementary School
      • Thomson Elementary School

      Ward 4

      • Barnard Elementary School
      • Bridges Public Charter School
      • Brightwood Education Campus
      • Capital City Public Charter School
      • Center City Public Charter School Brightwood Campus
      • Coolidge High School
      • DC International School
      • Dorothy I. Height Elementary School
      • E.L Haynes Public Charter School
      • Ida B Wells Middle School
      • LaSalle Backus Education Campus
      • MacFarland Middle School
      • Raymond Education Campus
      • Roosevelt Senior High School
      • Takoma Education Campus
      • Truesdell Education Campus
      • West Education Campus
      • Whittier Education Campus

      Ward 5

      • Briya Public Charter School
      • Brookland Middle School
      • Browne Education Campus
      • Bunker Hill Elementary School
      • DC Bilingual Public Charter School
      • DC Prep: Edgewood Middle Campus
      • Dunbar High School
      • Friendship Woodridge International Elementary/Middle
      • John Burroughs Elementary School
      • McKinley Middle School
      • McKinley Technology High School
      • Noyes Elementary School
      • Washington Jesuit Academy
      • Wheatley Education Campus
      • Langdon Elementary School
      • Langley Elementary School
      • Luke C. Moore High School

      Ward 6

      • Amidon Bowen Elementary School
      • Eastern Senior High School
      • J O Wilson Elementary School
      • Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School
      • Miner Elementary School
      • Payne Elementary School
      • Richard Wright Public Charter School for Journalism and Media Arts
      • Stuart-Hobson Middle School
      • Tyler Elementary School
      • Walker Jones Education Campus
      • Young Readers Center-Library of Congress

      Ward 7

      • Anne Beers Elementary School
      • Cesar Chavez Public Policy Charter School
      • DC Prep: Benning Middle Campus
      • Friendship Southeast Academy Public Charter School
      • H.D. Woodson High School
      • Houston Elementary School
      • Kelly Miller Middle School
      • Kimball Elementary School
      • Plummer Elementary School
      • Ron Brown College Preparatory High School
      • Sasha Bruce House: Sasha Bruce Youthwork
      • Thomas Elementary School 

      Ward 8

      • Anacostia High School
      • Ballou High School
      • Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys
      • Boone Elementary School
      • Charles Hart Middle School 
      • Excel Academy 
      • Free Minds Book Club
      • Friendship Tech Prep Middle and High School
      • Hendley Elementary School
      • Ketcham Elementary School
      • KIPP DC AIM Academy
      • Kramer Middle School
      • Malcolm X Elementary School
      • Martha’s Table After School Program (serving all Wards)
      • Martha’s Table Head Start Program (serving all wards)
      • Martin Luther King Elementary School
      • Monique Johnson Anacostia River Center
      • Moten Elementary School
      • Parklands-Turner Neighborhood Library
      • Patterson Elementary School
      • Savoy Elementary School
      • Simon Elementary School
      • St. Thomas More Catholic Academy
      • Stanton Elementary School
      • Sunshine Early Learning Center
      • Turner Elementary School
      • Washington School for Girls: The ARC Campus
      • Washington School for Girls: The View Campus
      • Leckie Elementary School
      • South East Children’s Center


      Prince George’s County

      • Barnaby Manor Elementary School
      • Buck Lodge Middle School
      • Flintstone Elementary School 
      • Hyattsville Elementary School
      • Mary Harris Mother Jones Elementary School
      • Mount Rainier Elementary School
      • Port Towns Elementary School

      Montgomery County

      • Brookhaven Elementary School
      • Burnt Mills Elementary School
      • Colonel E. Brooke Lee Middle School
      • Cresthaven Elementary School
      • East Silver Spring Elementary School
      • Gaithersburg Elementary School
      • Gaithersburg Middle School
      • Glenallan Elementary School
      • Highland Elementary School
      • Jackson Road Elementary School
      • JoAnn Leleck Elementary School at Broad Acres
      • Loiederman Middle School
      • Maya Angelou Academy at New Beginnings
      • Montgomery Knolls Elementary School
      • Montgomery Village Middle School
      • Neelsville Middle School
      • New Hampshire Estates Elementary School
      • Newport Mill Middle School
      • Northwood High School
      • St. Francis International School
      • Twinbrook Elementary School
      • Wheaton High School
      • Wheaton Woods Elementary School
      • Whetstone Elementary School


      Arlington County

      • Arlington Community High School 
      • New Directions Alternative Program
      • Wakefield High School

      Alexandria City

      • Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School
      • Francis C. Hammond Middle School
      • Jefferson-Houston School
      • TC Williams High School

      Fairfax County

      • Belvedere Elementary School
      • Graham Road Elementary School
      • Holmes Middle School
      • Lynbrook Elementary School
      • Poe Middle School
      • Woodlawn Elementary School


      Our guests include a mix of award-winning authors and illustrators. We continually seek out new and emerging creators of children’s and teens’ literature, and work to bring in authors and illustrators of color to increase representation. While in 2018 22% of the children’s books written were by authors of color (including African American, American Indian, Asian Pacific, and Latinex); during the 2018-19 school year, authors and illustrators of colors represented 40% of our guest artists.

      Publishers and their authors/illustrators often add an AOB event onto a DC tour so that the publisher incurs very little added expense. In addition to increased author and illustrator visibility, AOB book purchases lead to increased sales. However, publisher donations are always welcome.

      Below is a complete list of the authors and illustrators we’ve worked with over the years.


      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.

        Catalogue for Philanthropy Certification 2021/2022Since 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
        508 Kennedy St. NW, Suite 309
        Washington, D.C. 20011

        To donate stock, please follow these instructions

        To donate online, visit our donation page


        Legacy Gifts to An Open Book Foundation

        Your donations today make a difference in the lives of the students we serve by providing funding for our current in-class programming and book purchases. The sustainability of An Open Book Foundation (“AOB”) for future DC-area students is equally important to us.

        To that end, we gratefully accept donations to help us grow and strengthen the organization for the future, to ensure that the work of AOB will continue to make a significant mark on the children we serve by nurturing a lifelong love of reading. You can amplify your impact by including An Open Book Foundation in your estate planning.

        For more information on Planned Giving options, please review our Planned Giving documentation and contact our Development and Communications Director for more questions. All requests will remain confidential.

        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 info@anopenbookfound.org.

        An Open Book’s funding sources include grants from local government, corporate and family foundations, public charities, and individual donors. 

        BookplatesAn Open Book Bookplate
        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.


        Author Book Signing

        Meg Medina • Merci Suárez Changes Gears • Takoma Education Campus

        OUR STORY

        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.


        Carolyn Vinson Bou
        Carolyn Vinson Bou is Counsel in the Tax and Wealth Planning Group at Venable LLP, specializing in estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax planning and wealth preservation strategies. Carolyn has chaired planned giving committees at the Washington National Cathedral and the National Cathedral School (“NCS”), is a former board member at NCS and also co-chaired its last capital campaign. A mother of three, Carolyn is passionate about improving literacy in the District of Columbia.

        Michelle Edwards, EdD
        Michelle Edwards is a native Chicagoan who found her way to Live It Learn It by serving as the principal of Orr Elementary for almost a decade.  Michelle has also served on the board of Live It Learn It for over five years. She received a B.S. in Elementary Education from Northern Illinois University and Master’s degrees from Loyola University Chicago and Trinity University, Washington, DC.  Michelle participated in New Leaders, Inc. as a resident principal during its inaugural year in Washington DC and 10 years later served as the Director of the Emerging Leaders Program. She recently earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Organizational Management from the University of Pennsylvania. 

        Hope Harrod
        Hope Harrod has been a 4th and 5th grade teacher in DC Public Schools for 15 years. She has a Master’s in Education from Boston College. In the 2012-13 school year, she received DC’s highest teaching honors, the Excellence in Teaching Award and Teacher of the Year. She currently serves on the boards of An Open Book Foundation and Live it Learn it, a non-profit, also in DC. She is also a trustee at Kenyon College.

        Deborah Litt, PhD
        Deborah Litt is an independent consultant providing professional development in literacy instruction.  In 2016 she retired from Trinity University in Washington, DC after teaching there for more than thirteen years. She received her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction (Reading) from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2003. Prior to that she worked for nine years as a Reading Specialist in Title 1 schools in Prince George’s County, MD.

        Deep Master
        As a tax professional at SC&H Group, Deep Master helps run the non-profit practice at his firm. His clients include hospitals, healthcare organizations, public charities, private foundations, trade associations, private schools, and affordable housing organizations. Deep has taught courses related to Form 990 compliance, lobbying, and compensation issues for tax-exempt organizations. Deep has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master of Science in Taxation, both from American University where he also competed on the Division 1 varsity swim team. Deep has served as a volunteer for Mission for Vision Foundation USA and is currently a champion board member at Pool and Hot Tub Alliance.

        Jewell Parker Rhodes, PhD
        Dr. Rhodes is an award-winning and New York Times bestselling author and educator for both youth and adults. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Ghost Boys and Black Brother, Black, Brother, named Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best 2020. Her other books include Towers Falling, and the celebrated Louisiana Girls’ Trilogy: Ninth Ward, winner of a Coretta Scott King Honor Award, Sugar, and Bayou Magic. Her forthcoming novel is Paradise on Fire.

        Dr. Rhodes has visited hundreds of schools across the country and is a regular speaker at colleges and conferences. The driving force behind all of her work is to inspire social justice, equality, and environmental stewardship. She is the Founding Artistic Director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing and Narrative Studies Professor and Virginia G. Piper Endowed Chair at Arizona State University. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she currently lives in Seattle.

        Deb Shapiro
        A former journalist and bookseller with an MA in children’s literature, Deb Shapiro worked for more than twelve years in book publishing, creating and executing publicity and marketing campaigns for publishing houses large and small before launching her own company in 2011. She is also an instructor at the Columbia School of Journalism’s graduate publishing course, and an active volunteer with several literacy organizations. For more than a decade she traveled extensively on book tours, fostering relationships with booksellers, educators, and media throughout the country and developing a broad understanding of what readers of all ages respond to and are interested in. She lives in Washington, DC with her daughter.

        Christopher A. Stewart
        Christopher A. Stewart is a native Washingtonian and an advocate for youth, education, and people experiencing homelessness. Christopher is the high school librarian at Columbia Heights Education Campus. His extensive volunteer experience includes serving as treasurer of the Washington Teachers Union and working in Ethiopia and Haiti, where he created a curriculum for children and helped build a library in a tent city. Christopher holds master’s degrees from Wesley Theological Seminary in divinity and theological studies with concentrations in poverty intervention/prevention and juvenile justice reform, and a Master in Library and Information Science with a focus in law from The Catholic University. Christopher’s mission is to promote literacy, end world poverty, and empower all to seek peace and love. He lives in the DMV with his partner and three children.


        Dara D. La Porte • Founding Director
        Before founding An Open Book, Dara was the manager of the children and teens department at a large independent bookstore. Dara served on the board of the Association of Booksellers for Children, was appointed to the American Booksellers Association’s Advisory Board, and participated on several national panels on young adult literature. Dara also taught middle school for 12 years.

        Heidi W. Powell • Founding Director
        Before joining An Open Book full time in 2017, Heidi managed the children and teens department at a large independent bookstore. Heidi participated on several American Booksellers Association panels on coordinating book fairs with local schools. Heidi has worked as a city planner at the national, state and local levels. She holds a master’s degree in city and regional planning from UNC Chapel Hill, a B.A. from UC Berkeley, and enthusiastically recommends podcasts to anyone who will listen.

        Jennifer Barnes Eliot • Development and Communications Director
        Jennifer has worked in communications, development, and marketing in a wide array of not-for-profit and for-profit organizations in the US and internationally, including stints in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Istanbul and New Delhi. She has a B.A. in Public Communication from American University and looks for every opportunity to jump on a plane and explore.

        Naaz Khan • Program Coordinator
        Naaz has worked in the field of education, refugee resettlement and more recently as a storyteller and bookseller at an independent bookstore. As a third culture kid, she feels connected to multiple places including India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kenya, and the United States. Her first children’s book, ROOM FOR EVERYONE, which is set in Zanzibar, will be published through Caitlyn Dlouhy Books. Aside from reading and writing, Naaz’s soul is nourished through nature, tinkering around with music, and hosting interfaith gatherings. She holds a Masters degree in Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College and a diploma in Refugee Studies from the American University in Cairo.

        Josarie Molina • Education Director
        Josarie has been serving children and families for over 20 years as an art teacher, museum educator, art historian, school librarian, school and family program coordinator, storyteller and stage performer. She has a passion for events that foster life-long learning. Josarie loves to spend summers with family in her native Puerto Rico. She has a B.A. in visual arts, an M.A. in art education, and continues learning and creating every day.

        Kerri Poore • Program Director
        Prior to joining AOB, Kerri served as the director of publisher and author relations for First Book, a national nonprofit that provides new books to children in need. She also worked for 11 years in the Children and Teens Department at a large independent bookstore. Kerri has a Master’s degree from American University in international politics, has worked for the World Bank, the US State Department and lived in Madagascar for four years. She shares her home with her husband, son and their dog Waffles who hails from a small farm in Ithaca, NY.

        Kathie Weinberg • Program Coordinator
        Kathie is the Co-Director of We Need Diverse Books Walter Award, an award created to honor Walter Dean Myers. She is a library consultant with the Library of Congress, and provides leadership for their Teen Board. An active member of the American Library Association, YALSA and ALsC Divisions, she has presented at annual conferences and served on several awards ceremonies. Kathie has a Masters in Library Science from Simmons College and a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin.  


        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.


        An Open Book Foundation
        508 Kennedy St. NW, Suite 309
        Washington, D.C. 20011
        Phone: 202 686 7115


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        Use this form if you would like AOB to visit your school. We work with schools where 50% or more of their students qualify for the federal free and reduced meals program.
        Catalogue for Philanthropy Certification 2021/2022