The Big Idea: The Book Giving Tree in New Orleans

In the Fall of 2007, Laura revived the Book Giving Tree project at Tulane University in New Orleans. After speaking with teachers from around the city, she realized that many children in low-income schools were unable to enjoy classic children’s books at home because of both the cost of the books and the lack of literary mentors. Laura and her team sent packets to all Pre-K through 3rd grade teachers in the city of New Orleans, and she received responses from about half of the schools. She had asked for specific title requests directly from the children, and she promised to provide each child with a book for the holidays. The Book Giving Tree delivered a book to each student during its first year —over 4,000 books! After running the Book Giving Tree for 2 years at Tulane, Laura passed the project to other Tulane students and moved back to Chicago.

The Decision: Creating Wish Upon a Book

Over the next few years, the founding board members at Wish Upon a Book began hearing the same story in Chicago about low-income students being without books and solid literary mentors. So we spent a few months learning more about the problem by interviewing teachers within both the Chicago Public Schools and other schools all over the U.S. in order to learn best practices in literacy. We found the literacy crisis overwhelming…but in the end, we decided to form the nonprofit, Wish Upon a Book, and start small by using creative solutions to address the crisis – one book at a time!  And new this year - we’re opening their worlds a little wider by creating a partnership between our Chicago and LA schools through a ‘pen pal’ relationship!